Oct-4: Lessons of totipotency from embryonic stem cells

Maurizio Pesce, Konstantinos Anastassiadis, Hans R. Schöler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Oct-4 transcription factor is expressed in embryonic stem cells and germ cells of the mouse embryo. Cells that are driven into embryonic and extraembryonic somatic differentiation lose Oct-4 expression. Oct-4 is crucial for the maintenance of the totipotency of embryonic cells at early developmental stages as demonstrated recently by homologous recombination. Since during embryogenesis Oct-4 is restricted to germ cells, it is possible that it plays a key role for the germline lineage by preventing differentiation of these cells during gastrulation. Thus, Oct-4 appears to be a key regulator of totipotency during the life cycle of mammals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-152
Number of pages9
JournalCells Tissues Organs
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Embryonic stem cell
  • Germ cell
  • Oct-4
  • Transcription factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy


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