Tissue and cell interactions in mammalian PGC development
Primordial germ cells (PGCs) form early in embryo development and are crucial precursors to functioning gamete cells. Considerable research has focussed on identifying the transcriptional characteristics and signalling pathway requirements that confer PGC specification and development, enabling the derivation of PGC-like cells (PGCLCs) in vitro using specific signalling cocktails. However, full maturation to germ cells still relies on co-culture with supporting cell types, implicating an additional requirement for cellular- and tissue-level regulation. Here, we discuss the experimental evidence that highlights the nature of intercellular interactions between PGCs and neighbouring cell populations during mouse PGC development. We posit that the role that tissue interactions play on PGCs is not limited solely to signalling-based induction but extends to coordination of development by robust regulation of the proportions and position of the cells and tissues within the embryo, which is crucial for functional germ cell maturation. Such tissue co-development provides a dynamic, contextual niche for PGC development. We argue that there is evidence for a clear role for inter-tissue dependence of mouse PGCs, with potential implications for generating mammalian PGCLCs in vitro.
Issue number 23