Cell lineage analysis of the mammalian female germline

Yitzhak Reizel, Shalev Itzkovitz, Rivka Adar, Judith Elbaz, Adrian Jinich, Noa Chapal-Ilani, Yosef E. Maruvka, Nava Nevo, Zipora Marx, Inna Horovitz, Adam Wasserstrom, Avi Mayo, Irena Shur, Dafna Benayahu, Karl Skorecki, Eran Segal, Nava Dekel*, Ehud Shapiro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fundamental aspects of embryonic and post-natal development, including maintenance of the mammalian female germline, are largely unknown. Here we employ a retrospective, phylogenetic-based method for reconstructing cell lineage trees utilizing somatic mutations accumulated in microsatellites, to study female germline dynamics in mice. Reconstructed cell lineage trees can be used to estimate lineage relationships between different cell types, as well as cell depth (number of cell divisions since the zygote). We show that, in the reconstructed mouse cell lineage trees, oocytes form clusters that are separate from hematopoietic and mesenchymal stem cells, both in young and old mice, indicating that these populations belong to distinct lineages. Furthermore, while cumulus cells sampled from different ovarian follicles are distinctly clustered on the reconstructed trees, oocytes from the left and right ovaries are not, suggesting a mixing of their progenitor pools. We also observed an increase in oocyte depth with mouse age, which can be explained either by depth-guided selection of oocytes for ovulation or by post-natal renewal. Overall, our study sheds light on substantial novel aspects of female germline preservation and development.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1002477
JournalPLoS Genetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012


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