Specification of germ cells in mice occurs relatively late in embryonic development. It is initiated by signals that induce expression of Blimp1, a key regulator of the germ cell, in a few epiblast cells of early postimplantation embryos. Blimp1 represses the incipient somatic program in these cells and promotes progression toward the germ cell fate. Blimp1 may also have a role in the maintenance of early germ cell characteristics by ensuring their escape from the somatic fate as well as possible reversion to pluripotent stem cells.
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