Disruption of normal germ cell differentiation and function can result in infertility and genetic disorders in the progeny of affected individuals. However, many of the mechanisms that govern the formation and function of germ cells remain poorly understood.
Our long-term goal is to identify and characterize pathways that regulate germ cell-specific processes. However, the study of human gametogenesis remains largely impractical because specific steps of the process remain experimentally inaccessible.
In addition, there are key differences between human germ cells and those of other mammals— mice and rats—limiting the usefulness of models for studying and manipulating specific aspects of human gametogenesis.
To overcome these obstacles, we are working to promote human-induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) and non-human iPS-cell-derived cells (PGCLCs) to enter meiosis.