Germ cells possess the unique ability to acquire totipotency during development in vivo as well as give rise to pluripotent stem cells under the appropriate conditions in vitro. Recent studies in which somatic cells were experimentally converted into pluripotent stem cells revealed that genes expressed in primordial germ cells (PGCs), such as Oct3/4, Sox2, and Lin28, are involved in this reprogramming. These findings suggest that PGCs may be useful for identifying factors that successfully and efficiently reprogram somatic cells into toti- and/or pluripotent stem cells. Here, we show that Blimp-1, Prdm14, and Prmt5, each of which is crucial forPGCdevelopment, have the potential to reprogram somatic cells into pluripotent stem cells. Among them, Prmt5 exhibited remarkable reprogramming of mouse embryonic fibroblasts into which Prmt5, Klf4, and Oct3/4 were introduced. The resulting cells exhibited pluripotent gene expression, teratoma formation, and germline transmission in chimeric mice, all of which were indistinguishable from those induced with embryonic stem cells. These data indicate that some of the factors that play essential roles in germ cell development are also active in somatic cell reprogramming.
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