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John Gurdon

2017 GurdonJohn Gurdon Kt DPhil DSc FRS, Distinguished Group Leader, Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine 2012, member of the Department of Zoology.

Europe PMC | Pubmed




Nuclear reprogramming by oocytes and eggs

Can we make cell reprogramming more efficient? Our group focuses on somatic cell nuclear transfer to amphibian eggs and oocytes from two complementary points of view. One aims to identify the molecules and mechanisms by which the cytoplasm of an egg or oocyte can reprogramme the nucleus of a differentiated somatic cell to behave like that of an embryo. From this state, many different kinds of cells for replacement can be generated.

The other aim is to identify the molecules and mechanisms that stabilise the differentiated state of somatic cells, as a result of which they resist reprogramming procedures. For these purposes we use single nuclear transfer to unfertilised eggs or multiple nuclear transfer to ovarian oocytes. We make use of the special properties of an amphibian oocyte to inject messenger RNA that codes for a transcription factor protein. When this has been synthesised, it concentrates in the oocyte nucleus. The next day we inject plasmid DNA directly into the oocyte nucleus, where the factor causes transcription, and later expression, of a reporter gene in the plasmid.

Selected publications:

• Gurdon JB (2006) From nuclear transfer to nuclear reprogramming: the reversal of cell differentiation. Ann Rev Cell Dev Biol 22, 1-22.

• Jullien J et al. (2014) Hierarchical molecular events driven by oocyte-specific factors lead to rapid and extensive reprogramming. Molecular Cell 55: 1–13.

• Koziol MJ et al. (2016) Identification of methylated deoxyadenosines in vertebrates reveals diversity in DNA modifications. Nat Struct Mol Biol 23(1):24-30.

• Gurdon JB. (2016) Cell Fate Determination by Transcription Factors. Curr Top Dev Biol 116: 445-54. 

• Gurdon JB (2016) Nuclear reprogramming and cell replacement therapies. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol 17(3): 137-8.

• Gurdon J. (2017) Nuclear transplantation, the conservation of the genome, and prospects for cell replacement. FEBS J 284(2): 211-217.

• Miyamoto K et al. (2017) Reprogramming towards totipotency is greatly facilitated by synergistic effects of small molecules. Biol Open 6(4): 415-424. 

• Miyamoto K et al. (2018) Chromatin Accessibility Impacts Transcriptional Reprogramming in Oocytes. Cell Rep 24(2):304-311. 

Gurdon group (Nov18 to Feb19)

Video: Meet John Gurdon


Can Aztekin • Dilly Bradford • Nigel Garrett • Khayam Javed • Jerome Jullien • Ming-Hsuan Wen