A novel role for sox7 in Xenopus early primordial germ cell development: Mining the PGC transcriptome

Amanda M. Butler, Dawn A. Owens, Lingyu Wang, Mary Lou King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Xenopus primordial germ cells (PGCs) are determined by the presence of maternally derived germ plasm. Germ plasm components both protect PGCs from somatic differentiation and begin a unique gene expression program. Segregation of the germline from the endodermal lineage occurs during gastrulation, and PGCs subsequently initiate zygotic transcription. However, the gene network(s) that operate to both preserve and promote germline differentiation are poorly understood. Here, we utilized RNA-sequencing analysis to comprehensively interrogate PGC and neighboring endoderm cell mRNAs after lineage segregation. We identified 1865 transcripts enriched in PGCs compared with endoderm cells. We next compared the PGC-enriched transcripts with previously identified maternal, vegetally enriched transcripts and found that ∼38% of maternal transcripts were enriched in PGCs, including sox7. PGC-directed sox7 knockdown and overexpression studies revealed an early requirement for sox7 in germ plasm localization, zygotic transcription and PGC number. We identified pou5f3.3 as the most highly expressed and enriched POU5F1 homolog in PGCs. We compared the Xenopus PGC transcriptome with human PGC transcripts and showed that 80% of genes are conserved, underscoring the potential usefulness of Xenopus for understanding human germline specification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberdev155978
JournalDevelopment (Cambridge)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • Germ plasm
  • PGCs
  • Pou5f3.3 (oct60)
  • RNA-seq
  • Sox7
  • Xenopus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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