Cellular and genetic basis of early gonadogenesis and its reconstitution in vitro

Gonadal somatic cells (GSOs), constituents of ovaries and testes are known to be essential for the survival and maturation of germ cells since they provide signaling cues—albeit not yet fully identified—to germ cells. Aside from the role for germline development, GSOs are the initial trigger that dictates the individual’s overall sexual phenotypes in mammals.

Despite these important roles of the GSOs, its cellular composition, ontogeny, and interaction with germ cells are poorly understood, particularly in humans. Similar to the case of the germ cells, in vitro reconstitution of the GSOs from pluripotent stem cells should enable us to understand niche signals critical for germ cell survival and maturation.

To this end, we aim at inducing GSOs from hiPSCs through dissecting out the developmental pathways of GSOs and stepwise recapitulation of such processes.