Derivation of human primordial germ cell-like cells in an embryonic-like culture

Sajedeh Nasr Esfahani, Yi Zheng, Auriana Arabpour, Agnes M.Resto Irizarry, Norio Kobayashi, Xufeng Xue, Yue Shao, Cheng Zhao, Nicole L. Agranonik, Megan Sparrow, Timothy J. Hunt, Jared Faith, Mary Jasmine Lara, Qiu Ya Wu, Sherman Silber, Sophie Petropoulos, Ran Yang, Kenneth R. Chien, Amander T. Clark, Jianping Fu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Primordial germ cells (PGCs) are the embryonic precursors of sperm and eggs. They transmit genetic and epigenetic information across generations. Given the prominent role of germline defects in diseases such as infertility, detailed understanding of human PGC (hPGC) development has important implications in reproductive medicine and studying human evolution. Yet, hPGC specification remains an elusive process. Here, we report the induction of hPGC-like cells (hPGCLCs) in a bioengineered human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC) culture that mimics peri-implantation human development. In this culture, amniotic ectoderm-like cells (AMLCs), derived from hPSCs, induce hPGCLC specification from hPSCs through paracrine signaling downstream of ISL1. Our data further show functional roles of NODAL, WNT, and BMP signaling in hPGCLC induction. hPGCLCs are successfully derived from eight non-obstructive azoospermia (NOA) participant-derived hPSC lines using this biomimetic platform, demonstrating its promise for screening applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number167
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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