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Open AccessReview

Retinoic Acid and Germ Cell Development in the Ovary and Testis

1
Immunology Frontier Research Center, Research Institute for Microbial Diseases, Osaka University, 3-1 Yamadaoka, Suita 565-0871, Japan
2
Whitehead Institute, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA
3
Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
4
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Whitehead Institute, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA
5
Reproductive Biology Group, Division of Developmental Biology, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Utrecht University, Utrecht 3584 CH, The Netherlands
6
Center for Reproductive Medicine, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam 1105 AZ, The Netherlands
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Biomolecules 2019, 9(12), 775; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9120775
Received: 31 October 2019 / Revised: 22 November 2019 / Accepted: 23 November 2019 / Published: 24 November 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Retinoids in Embryonic Development)
Retinoic acid (RA), a derivative of vitamin A, is critical for the production of oocytes and sperm in mammals. These gametes derive from primordial germ cells, which colonize the nascent gonad, and later undertake sexual differentiation to produce oocytes or sperm. During fetal development, germ cells in the ovary initiate meiosis in response to RA, whereas those in the testis do not yet initiate meiosis, as they are insulated from RA, and undergo cell cycle arrest. After birth, male germ cells resume proliferation and undergo a transition to spermatogonia, which are destined to develop into haploid spermatozoa via spermatogenesis. Recent findings indicate that RA levels change periodically in adult testes to direct not only meiotic initiation, but also other key developmental transitions to ensure that spermatogenesis is precisely organized for the prodigious output of sperm. This review focuses on how female and male germ cells develop in the ovary and testis, respectively, and the role of RA in this process.
Keywords: germ cells; retinoic acid; meiosis; ovary; spermatogenesis; testis germ cells; retinoic acid; meiosis; ovary; spermatogenesis; testis
MDPI and ACS Style

Endo, T.; Mikedis, M.M.; Nicholls, P.K.; Page, D.C.; de Rooij, D.G. Retinoic Acid and Germ Cell Development in the Ovary and Testis. Biomolecules 2019, 9, 775.

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