Specialized ribonucleoprotein organelles collectively known as germ granules are found in the germline cytoplasm from worms to humans . In Drosophila, germ granules have been implicated in germline determination . C. elegans germ granules, known as P granules, do not appear to be required for primordial germ cell (PGC) determination , but their components are still needed for fertility [4-6]. One potential role for P granules is to maintain germline fate and totipotency. This is suggested by the loss of P granules from germ cells that transform into somatic cell types, e.g., in germlines lacking MEX-3 and GLD-1 or upon neuronal induction by CHE-1 [7, 8]. However, it has not been established whether loss of P granules is the cause or effect of cell fate transformation. To test cause and effect, we severely compromised P granules by simultaneously knocking down factors that nucleate granule formation (PGL-1 and PGL-3) and promote their perinuclear localization (GLH-1 and GLH-4)  and investigated whether this causes germ cells to lose totipotency and initiate somatic reprogramming. We found that compromising P granules causes germ cells to express neuronal and muscle markers and send out neurite-like projections, suggesting that P granules maintain totipotency and germline identity by antagonizing somatic fate.
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