PerspectiveDevelopmental Biology

Versatile Germline Genes

Science  06 Aug 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5992, pp. 640-641
DOI: 10.1126/science.1194037

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Animal germline cells ultimately produce eggs and sperm, providing an immortal link to the next generation. Establishing and maintaining the germline requires a conserved gene set (1), but traditionally classified “germline genes” may have a broader role in development than originally anticipated. Recent findings from less well-studied animal models suggest that in some taxa, germline genes appear to specify a multipotent cell lineage during embryogenesis, the fates of which include both somatic cells and the germ line.