Foetal Germ Cell Program:
Peter Koopman, Andrew Sinclair, Kate Loveland, David Jans
- Discover and characterise genes and proteins
- Allocation of the germ cell lineage
- Proliferation, migration and survival of primordial germ cells (PGCs)
- Transition to spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs)
- Signalling between somatic cells and germ cells
- Identify environmental factors that influence germ cell behaviour in the embryo.
Analysis of the fundamental mechanisms underlying the specification and early differentiation of male germ cells will contribute to our understanding of a number of distressing pathological conditions affecting the reproductive development of children and young adults. For example, testicular cancer is a serious disease affecting young Australian males in their early 20's and 30's. The incidence of this condition has risen rapidly over the past 3-4 decades and is believed to reflect the impact of environmental toxicants on an early stage of germ cell development: the primordial germ cell- spermatogonial stem cell transition. Similarly, defects in the primary specification of mammalian germ cells is believed to underpin the intersex conditions that occur in one in every 4,500 births. The CBD's research in these areas will generate strategically important information that will significantly improve the clinical management of these conditions.
The four subprograms within this research area are:
Subprogram 1: Gene discovery - the search for the Meiosis Inhibitory Factor (MIF)
Subprogram 2: Pilot project - high throughput screen of xenobiotics to study the contribution of environmental factors to germ cell ontogeny, aetiology of testicular germ cell tumours, infertility, and lineage commitment.
Subprogram 3: Identifying germ cell specific genes
Subprogram 4: Functional analysis of germ cell specific genes using siRNA