Primordial Germ Cells

Development begins with fertilization, the process by which the male gamete, the sperm, and the female gamete, the oocyte, unite to give rise to a zygote. Gametes are derived from primordial germ cells (PGCs) that are formed in the epiblast during the second week and that move to the wall of the yolk sac (Fig. 1.1). During the fourth week these cells begin to migrate from the yolk sac toward the developing gonads, where they arrive by the end of the fifth week. Mitotic divisions increase their number during their migration and also when they arrive in the gonad. In preparation for fertilization, germ cells undergo gametogenesis, which includes meiosis, to reduce the number of chromosomes and cytodifferentiation to complete their maturation.

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