Molecular regulation of the mitosis-to-meiosis switch in germ cells (2011–2013)
Animal fertility critically depends on the ability of germ cells to undergo a specialized type of cell division called meiosis. We discovered that retinoic acid is a key molecular regulator of entry into meiosis, but our recent findings implicate a second key regulator, FGF9. Here, we will use molecular genetic strategies, cell and organ culture techniques, and novel transgenic mouse strains to dissect how these molecules function and interact in directing germ cell meiosis. Outcomes of this project will be applicable to augmenting or suppressing fertility in endangered or pest species, assist efforts to produce sperm and oocytes from germline stem cells in vitro, and provide insights into the origins of testicular germ cell cancers.