DMRT1 regulates human germline commitment.
Irie N., Lee S-M., Lorenzi V., Xu H., Chen J., Inoue M., Kobayashi T., Sancho-Serra C., Drousioti E., Dietmann S., Vento-Tormo R., Song C-X., Surani MA.
Germline commitment following primordial germ cell (PGC) specification during early human development establishes an epigenetic programme and competence for gametogenesis. Here we follow the progression of nascent PGC-like cells derived from human embryonic stem cells in vitro. We show that switching from BMP signalling for PGC specification to Activin A and retinoic acid resulted in DMRT1 and CDH5 expression, the indicators of migratory PGCs in vivo. Moreover, the induction of DMRT1 and SOX17 in PGC-like cells promoted epigenetic resetting with striking global enrichment of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine and locus-specific loss of 5-methylcytosine at DMRT1 binding sites and the expression of DAZL representing DNA methylation-sensitive genes, a hallmark of the germline commitment programme. We provide insight into the unique role of DMRT1 in germline development for advances in human germ cell biology and in vitro gametogenesis.