The fragilis interferon-inducible gene family of transmembrane proteins is associated with germ cell specification in mice

Ulricke Lange, Mitinori Saitou, Patrick Western, Sheila Barton, Azim Surani

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BACKGROUND: Specification of primordial germ cells in mice depends on instructive signalling events, which act first to confer germ cell competence on epiblast cells, and second, to impose a germ cell fate upon competent precursors. fragilis, an interferon-inducible gene coding for a transmembrane protein, is the first gene to be implicated in the acquisition of germ cell competence. RESULTS: Here, we describe four additional fragilis-related genes, fragilis2-5, which are clustered within a 68 kb region in the vicinity of the fragilis locus on Chr 7. These genes exist in a number of mammalian species, which in the human are also clustered on the syntenic region on Chr 11. In the mouse, fragilis2 and fragilis3, which are proximate to fragilis, exhibit expression that overlaps with the latter in the region of specification of primordial germ cells. Using single cell analysis, we confirm that all these three fragilis-related genes are predominant in nascent primordial germ cells, as well as in gonadal germ cells. CONCLUSION: The Fragilis family of interferon-inducible genes is tightly associated with germ cell specification in mice. Furthermore, its evolutionary conservation suggests that it probably plays a critical role in all mammals. Detailed analysis of these genes may also elucidate the role of interferons as signalling molecules during development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 11
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Developmental Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes

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