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Science 316 (5823): 400-401

Copyright © 2007 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

The Mysteries of Sexual Identity: The Germ Cell's Perspective

Judith Kimble1*, and David C. Page2

Abstract: Animal germ cells differentiate as sperm or eggs, depending on their sex. Somatic signals tell germ cells whether they reside in a male or female body, but how do germ cells interpret those external cues to acquire their own sexual identity? A critical aspect of a germ cell's sexual puzzle is that the sperm/egg decision is closely linked to the cell-cycle decision between mitosis and meiosis. Molecular studies have begun to tease apart the regulators of both decisions, an essential step toward understanding the regulatory logic of this fundamental question of germ cell biology.

1 Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA.
2 Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Whitehead Institute, and Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: jekimble{at}

Mitosis-meiosis and sperm-oocyte fate decisions are separable regulatory events.
C. T. Morgan, D. Noble, and J. Kimble (2013)
PNAS 110, 3411-3416
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Mammalian meiosis is more conserved by sex than by species: conserved co-expression networks of meiotic prophase.
Y. Su, Y. Li, and P. Ye (2011)
Reproduction 142, 675-687
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Molecular Regulation of the Mitosis/Meiosis Decision in Multicellular Organisms.
J. Kimble (2011)
Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol 3, a002683
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Licensing of gametogenesis, dependent on RNA binding protein DAZL, as a gateway to sexual differentiation of fetal germ cells.
M. E. Gill, Y.-C. Hu, Y. Lin, and D. C. Page (2011)
PNAS 108, 7443-7448
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Meiosis initiation in the human ovary requires intrinsic retinoic acid synthesis.
R. Le Bouffant, M. J. Guerquin, C. Duquenne, N. Frydman, H. Coffigny, V. Rouiller-Fabre, R. Frydman, R. Habert, and G. Livera (2010)
Hum. Reprod. 25, 2579-2590
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »

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