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Medaka piwi is Essential for Primordial Germ Cell Migration

[ Vol. 12 , Issue. 8 ]


M. Li, N. Hong, J. Gui and Y. Hong   Pages 1040 - 1049 ( 10 )


Piwi controls the number of primordial germ cells (PGCs) via protecting maternal mRNA from decay and adult germ stem cell division in Drosophila. In mouse and zebrafish, piwi controls maintenance and differentiation of adult germ stem cell during gametogenesis. Whether piwi plays a role in PGC development of vertebrates remains unsolved. We addressed this issue by using medaka (Oryzias latipes) as a vertebrate model. Molecular cloning, sequence comparison and analyses of genomic organization and chromosome synteny led to the identification in this fish of a single piwi gene, called Opiwi. By RT-PCR analyses and in situ hybridization, the Opiwi transcript is maternally supplied and becomes restricted to PGCs and the central nervous system (CNS). Opiwi knockdown did not prevent PGC formation even in the absence of any somatic structures but did significantly reduce the number of PGCs in vivo and in vitro and affect the distribution of PGCs in developing embryos. Surprisingly, depletion of zygotic Opiwi severely and specifically affected PGC migration. We conclude that Opiwi is required not only for determining the PGC number but also for controlling PGC migration. Our results demonstrate that piwi plays a generally conserved role in germ cell development from Drosophila to vertebrate and a specific role in PGC migration.


Cell migration, embryo, germ cell, motility, piwi, infertility, azoospermia , oligozoospermia, genetic alterations, DAZ gene family, polymorphisms, mutagenesis, germline development, spermatogonia, spermatogenesis.


Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, 14 Science Drive 4, 117543 Singapore.

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