Multicellular species use gametes for their propagation. Gametes are formed from primordial germ cells (PGCs), which develop during embryogenesis. In some species, PGCs are specified by the inheritance of a RNA granule known as germ plasm. During germ cell specification, the germ plasm conveys a unique set of properties, e.g. the germ cell specific meiotic cell cycle to the PGCs. Germ plasm assembly is controlled by independently evolving organizer proteins like Oskar in Drosophila or Bucky ball in zebrafish. These organizers are intrinsically disordered proteins, which rapidly changed their amino acid sequence during evolution. A common recipe has emerged by studies on organizer proteins for animals that use germ plasm to specify their germline. Investigating the nature of these organizers might therefore provide a clue to germ cell specification in other species, which are less accessible to molecular-genetic and embryological approaches. Moreover, we might understand how the first metazoans modified their existing cellular structures from unicellular eukaryotes to ensure their reproduction.
Part of the book: Germ Cell