During mammalian embryonic development, the trophectoderm and primitive endoderm give rise to extraembryonic tissues, while the epiblast differentiates into all somatic lineages and the germline. Remarkably, only a few classes of signaling pathways induce the differentiation of these progenitor cells into diverse lineages. Accordingly, the functional outcome of a particular signal depends on the developmental competence of the target cells. Thus, developmental competence can be defined as the ability of a cell to integrate intrinsic and extrinsic cues to execute a specific developmental program toward a specific cell fate. Downstream of signaling, there is the combinatorial activity of transcription factors and their cofactors, which is modulated by the chromatin state of the target cells. Here, we discuss the concept of developmental competence, and the factors that regulate this state with reference to the specification of mammalian primordial germ cells.
Keywords: AP2γ; BLIMP1; Developmental competence; Enhancer; PGCs; PRDM14; Primordial germ cells; Specification.
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