Reprogramming the male gamete genome: A window to successful gene therapy

S. A. Krawetz, J. A. Kramer, J. R. McCarrey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Hematopoiesis and spermatogenesis both initiate from a stem cell capable of renewal and differentiation. Each pathway reflects the expression of unique combinations of facultative, i.e. tissue-specific and constitutive, i.e. housekeeping, genes in each cell type. In spermatogenesis, as in hematopoiesis, commitment is mediated by the mechanism of potentiation whereby specific chromatin domains are selectively opened along each chromosome. Within each open chromatin domain, a unique battery of gene(s) is availed to tissue-specific and ubiquitous transacting factors that are necessary to initiate transcription. In the absence of an open domain, trans-factor access is denied, and the initiation of transcription cannot proceed. Cell-fate is thus ultimately defined by the unique series of open-potentiated cell-specific chromatin domains. Defining the mechanism that opens chromatin domains is fundamental in understanding how differentiation from stem cells is controlled and whether cell-fate can be modified. A recent examination of the mammalian spermatogenic pathway [ Kramer, J.A., McCarrey, J.M, Djakiew, D., Krawetz, S.A., 1998. Differentiation: the selective potentiation of chromatin domains. Development 125, 4749-4755] supports the view that cell fate is mediated by global changes in chromatin conformation. This stride underscores the possibility of moderating differentiation through chromatin conformation. It is likely that gene therapeutics capable of selectively potentiating individual genic domains in populations of differentiating and/or replicating cells that modify cellular phenotype will be developed in the next millennium. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 24 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell fate
  • Commitment
  • Determination
  • Gene therapy
  • Potentiation
  • Stem cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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