Embryonic and Germ Cells
A mutation in an RNA-binding protein, DND1, leads to a high incidence of teratomas on some genetic backgrounds. Teratomas arise from germ cells only during the developmental window soon after they arrive in the gonad. At this stage, the germ cell genome has a differentiation potential similar to embryonic stem cells.
Under normal conditions, DND1 suppresses the tumorigenic potential of germ cells and regulates their stable transition to prospermatogonia. Identification of the targets of DND1, and the strain-specific signals that influence this transition, will reveal common intracellular and extracellular mechanisms of communication between stem cells and their niches.