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Abstract

Pluripotent stem cells can be established by various methods, but they share several cytological properties, including germ cell differentiation in vitro, independently of their origin. Although mouse induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells can produce functional gametes in vivo, it is still unclear whether or not they have the ability to produce presumptive germ cells in vitro. Here, we show that mouse iPS cells derived from adult hepatocytes were able to differentiate into presumptive germ cells marked by mouse vasa homolog (Mvh) expression in feeder-free or suspension cultures. Embryoid body (EB) formation from iPS cells also induced the formation of round-shaped cells resembling immature oocytes. Mvh+ cells formed clumps by co-aggregation with differentiation-supporting cells, and increased expression of germ cell markers was detected in these cell aggregates. Differentiation culture of presumptive germ cells from iPS cells could provide a conventional system for facilitating our understanding of the mechanisms underlying direct reprogramming and germline competency. Mol. Reprod. Dev. 77: 802–811, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.