Derivation and characterization of primordial germ cells from Guangxi yellow-feather chickens

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The Guangxi yellow-feather chicken is a very important breed used as a broiler in southern China, but the pure line is being threatened by continual introduction of foreign genetics into its breeding program to make it more marketable. In the current study, we isolated primordial germ cells (PGCs), a cell type committed to form sperm or eggs and that is responsible for passing genetic material from one generation to the next, from Guangxi yellow-feather chickens and cultured them in a cell-insert system. Three stable cell lines, all male, were established from 10 isolations. These cells proliferated and expressed germ cell-related markers such as SSEA-1 and EMA-1 after prolonged culture in vitro. After genetic modification, these PGCs retained significant potential to colonize the gonads and give rise to gametes when they were reintroduced into the vasculature of stage-15 HH embryos, confirming their germline cell characteristics. The ability to culture PGCs and preserve the genetics from this species would not only be of significant importance for biodiversity conservation, but also holds promise for use of these cells in breeding strategies in the future.

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