Germline - Immortality through Totipotency

What does immortality mean at the molecular, cellular, transgenerational and evolutionary level?

Most organisms have a defined lifespan, however life of a species continues and evolves via germline from generation to generation. Recent studies show that tissue stem cells share molecular and developmental signatures with the germline and that even fully differentiated, postmitotic cells can be reprogrammed to regain totipotency.

This EMBO | EMBL Symposium will go beyond a description of the phenomena involving stem cell behaviour, programming and reprogramming. It will bring together researchers from different disciplines, who will address fundamental questions of totipotency as they relate to evolution, development and tissue specialization.

•Questions to be discussed include:

◦how a need for germline specification arose during the evolution of multicellularity from single cells to colonies with specialized cell types;

◦how the fertilized egg cell loses totipotency during formation of a multicelluar organism;

◦how chromatin-based mechanisms influence totipotency both at the cellular and transgenerational level; and

◦how the decision toward meiosis is achieved and regulated.


◦From single cells to multicellularity

◦Keeping it all together: chromosomes and chromatin

◦Programming and reprogramming

◦Conservative vs progressive divisions (mitosis and meiosis)

◦Context matters

+ show speakers and program
Angelika Amon, The Koch Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

John Gurdon, Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Azim Surani, Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Geneviève Almouzni, CNRS Institut Curie, France

María Blasco, Spanish National Cancer Research Centre, Spain

Déborah Bourc’his, INSERM, France

Anne Brunet, Stanford University, USA

Bradley R. Cairns, University of Utah, USA

Ueli Grossniklaus, University of Zurich, Switzerland

Takashi Hiiragi, EMBL, Germany

Brian K. Kennedy, Buck Institute, USA

Marty M. Matzuk, Baylor College of Medicine, USA

Kim Nasmyth, University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Huck Hui NG, Genome Institute of Singapore, Singapore

David C. Page, Whitehead Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

Katrin Plath, University of California, Los Angeles, USA

Peter W. Reddien, Whitehead Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

Wolf Reik, Babraham Institute, United Kingdom

Mitinori Saitou, Kyoto University, Japan

Hiroshi Sasaki, Kumamoto University, Japan

Melina Schuh, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, United Kingdom

Susan Strome, University of California Santa Cruz, USA

Maria-Elena Torres-Padilla, The Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology, France

Yukiko Yamashita, University of Michigan, USA

13 Oct - 16 Oct 2012
meeting website