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Primordial and Mature Germ Cells

Embryonic germ cells develop into gametes, the reproductive cells of the adult, namely sperm and eggs. Germ cells are unique in the fact that they are haploid, containing a single set of 23 chromosomes. Germ cells, which ultimately form the next generation organism, are considered immortal as they can infinitely self replicate, in contrast to somatic cells. During embryonic development germ cells form from precursor or primordial germ cells. Since they are formed in a different part of the embryo, primordial germ cells must migrate to the location of the future gonads where they become mature germ cells. Failure to migrate to the desired location can result in rare germ cell tumors in other parts of the body. Germ cell research is an area of high interest in the fields of development, reproduction, and cancer biology.