Abstract The amnion is the inner of two membranes surrounding the fetus. That it arises from embryonic epiblast cells prior to gastrulation suggests that it may retain a reservoir of stem cells throughout pregnancy. We found that human amniotic epithelial cells (hAECs) harvested from term-delivered fetal membranes express mRNA and proteins present in human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), including POU domain, class 5, transcription factor 1; Nanog homeobox; SRY-box 2; and stage-specific embryonic antigen-4. In keeping with possible stem cell-like activity, hAECs were also clonogenic, and primary hAEC cultures could be induced to differentiate into cardiomyocytic, myocytic, osteocytic, adipocytic (mesodermal), pancreatic, hepatic (endodermal), neural, and astrocytic (neuroectodermal) cells in vitro, as defined by phenotypic, mRNA expression, immunocytochemical, and/or ultrastructural characteristics. However, unlike hESCs, hAECs did not form teratomas upon transplantation into severe combined immunodeficienc...
This study was designed to isolate, characterize, and culture human spermatogonia. Using immunohistochemistry on tubule sections, we localized GPR125 to the plasma membrane of a subset of the spermatogonia. Immunohistochemistry also showed that MAGEA4 was expressed in all spermatogonia (A dark , A pale , and type B) and possibly preleptotene spermatocytes. Notably, KIT was expressed in late spermatocytes and round spermatids, but apparently not in human spermatogonia. UCHL1 was found in the cytoplasm of spermatogonia, whereas POU5F1 was not detected in any of the human germ cells. GFRA1 and ITGA6 were localized to the plasma membrane of the spermatogonia. Next, we isolated GPR125-positive spermatogonia from adult human testes using a two-step enzymatic digestion followed by magnetic-activated cell sorting. The isolated GPR125-positive cells coexpressed GPR125, ITGA6, THY1, and GFRA1, and they could be cultured for short periods of time and exhibited a marked increase in cell numbers as shown by a proliferation assay. Immunocytochemistry of putative stem cell genes after 2 wk in culture revealed that the cells were maintained in an undifferentiated state. MAPK1/3 phosphorylation was increased after 2 wk of culture of the GPR125-positive spermatogonia compared to the freshly isolated cells. Taken together, these results indicate that human spermatogonia share some but not all phenotypes with spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) and progenitors from other species. GPR125-positive spermatogonia are phenotypically putative human SSCs and retain an undifferentiated status in vitro. This study provides novel insights into the molecular characteristics, isolation, and culture of human SSCs and/or progenitors and suggests that the MAPK1/3 pathway is involved in their proliferation.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) miniature pig was developed specifically for xenotransplantation and has been extensively used as a large-animal model in many other biomedical experiments. However, the cloning efficiency of this pig is very low (<0.2%), and this has been an obstacle to the promising application of these inbred swine genetics for biomedical research. It has been demonstrated that increased histone acetylation in somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) embryos, by applying a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor such as trichostatin A (TSA), significantly enhances the developmental competence in several species. However, some researchers also reported that TSA treatment had various detrimental effects on the in vitro and in vivo development of the SCNT embryos. Herein, we report that treatment with 500 nM 6-(1,3-dioxo-1H, 3H-benzo[de]isoquinolin-2-yl)-hexanoic acid hydroxyamide (termed scriptaid ), a novel HDAC inhibitor, significantly enhanced the development of SCNT embryos to the blastocyst stage when NIH inbred fetal fibroblast cells (FFCs) were used as donors compared with the untreated group (21% vs. 9%, P < 0.05). Scriptaid treatment resulted in eight pregnancies from 10 embryo transfers (ETs) and 14 healthy NIH miniature pigs from eight litters, while no viable piglets (only three mummies) were obtained from nine ETs in the untreated group. Thus, scriptaid dramatically increased the cloning efficiency when using inbred genetics from 0.0% to 1.3%. In contrast, scriptaid treatment decreased the blastocyst rate in in vitro fertilization embryos (from 37% to 26%, P < 0.05). In conclusion, the extremely low cloning efficiency in the NIH miniature pig may be caused by its inbred genetic background and can be improved by alteration of genomic histone acetylation patterns.
Spermatogenesis is a temperature-dependent process, and increases in scrotal temperature can disrupt its progression. We previously showed that heat stress causes DNA damage in germ cells, an increase in germ cell death (as seen on TUNEL staining), and subfertility. The present study evaluated the stress response in mouse testes following a single mild transient scrotal heat exposure (40Â°C or 42Â°C for 30 min). We investigated markers of three types of stress response, namely, hypoxia, oxidative stress, and apoptosis. Heat stress caused an increase in expression of hypoxia-inducible factor 1 alpha ( Hif1a ) mRNA expression and translocation of HIF1A protein to the germ cell nucleus, consistent with hypoxic stress. Increased expression of heme oxygenase 1 ( Hmox1 ) and the antioxidant enzymes glutathione peroxidase 1 (GPX1) and glutathione S-transferase alpha (GSTA) was consistent with a robust oxidative stress response. Germ cell death was associated with an increase in expression of the effector caspase cleaved caspase 3 and a decrease in expression of the protein inhibitor of caspase-activated DNase (ICAD). Reduced expression of ICAD contributes to increased activity of caspase-activated DNase and is consistent with the increased rates of DNA fragmentation that have been detected previously using TUNEL staining. These studies confirmed that transient mild testicular hyperthermia results in temperature-dependent germ cell death and demonstrated that elevated temperature results in a complex stress response, including induction of genes associated with oxidative stress and hypoxia.
In addition to their contribution to the research on early human development, human embryonic stem (hES) cells may also be used for cell-based therapies. Traditionally, these cells have been cultured on mouse embryonic fibroblast feeder layers, which allow their continuous growth in an undifferentiated state. However, the use of hES cells in human therapy requires an animal-free culture system, in which exposure to mouse retroviruses is avoided. In this study we present a novel feeder layer-free culture system for hES cells, based on medium supplemented with 15% serum replacement, a combination of growth factors including transforming growth factor Î²1 (TGFÎ²1), leukemia inhibitory factor, basic fibroblast growth factor, and fibronectin matrix. Human ES cells grown in these conditions maintain all ES cell features after prolonged culture, including the developmental potential to differentiate into representative tissues of the three embryonic germ layers, unlimited and undifferentiated proliferative ability, and maintenance of normal karyotype. The culture system presented here has two major advantages: 1) application of a well-defined culture system for hES cells and 2) reduced exposure of hES cells to animal pathogens. The feeder layer-free culture system reported here aims at facilitating research practices and providing a safer alternative for future clinical applications of hES cells.
The zebrafish has become an important vertebrate model for basic and biomedical research, including the research field of the biology of reproduction. However, very few morphological and stereological data are available regarding zebrafish testis structure and spermatogenesis. In this careful histomorphometric evaluation of the testis, we studied spermatogonial cells using molecular markers, determined the combined duration of meiotic and spermiogenic phases, and examined the formation of the Sertoli cell barrier (tight junctions). We found at least nine spermatogonial generations and propose a morphology-based nomenclature for spermatogonial generations that is compatible with the one used in higher vertebrates. The number of germ cells per cyst increased dramatically (1 to â¼1360 cells) from undifferentiated spermatogonia type A to early spermatids. The combined duration of meiotic and spermiogenic phases is approximately 6 days, one of the shorter periods among the teleost fish investigated to date. The number of Sertoli cells per cyst increased 9-fold during the maturational cycle of spermatogenic cysts and stabilized in the meiotic phase at a ratio of approximately 100 early spermatids per Sertoli cell (Sertoli cell efficiency). Similarly to mammals, Sertoli cell proliferation ceased in the meiotic phase, coinciding with the formation of tight junctions between Sertoli cells. Hence, the events taking place during puberty in the germinal epithelium of mammals seem to recapitulate the âlife historyâ of each individual spermatogenic cyst in zebrafish.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs that posttranscriptionally regulate gene expression. Hundreds of miRNAs are expressed in mammals; however, their functions are just starting to be uncovered. MicroRNAs are processed from a long hairpin mRNA transcript, down to a â¼23-nucleotide duplex. The enzyme Dicer1 is required for miRNA processing, and mouse knockouts of Dicer1 are embryonic lethal before 7.5 days postcoitus. To examine the function of miRNAs specifically in the germline, we used a mouse model that expresses Cre recombinase from the TNAP locus and a floxed Dicer1 conditional allele. Removal of Dicer1 from germ cells resulted in male infertility. Germ cells were present in adult testes, but few tubules contained elongating spermatids. Germ cells that did differentiate to elongating spermatids exhibited abnormal morphology and motility. Rarely, sperm lacking Dicer1 could fertilize wild-type eggs to generate viable offspring. These results show that Dicer1 and miRNAs are essential for proper differentiation of the male germline.
Abstract Though gender-based differences in the development of protective or pathological adaptive host responses have been widely noted, it is becoming apparent that sex may also influence the early perception of microbial challenges and the generation of inflammatory immune responses. These differences may be due to the actions of reproductive hormones, and such a hypothesis is supported by the presence of receptors for these hormones in a variety of immune cell types. Androgens such as testosterone have been shown to decrease immune functions, including cytokine production. However, the mechanisms by which testosterone limits such responses remain undefined. In this study, we have investigated the acute effects of testosterone on the level of expression of a key trigger for inflammation and innate immunity, Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), on isolated mouse macrophages. We show that in vitro testosterone treatment of macrophages, generated in the absence of androgen, elicits a modest but significant decrea...
Boar spermatozoa are very susceptible to reactive oxygen species (ROS), but ROS involvement in damage and/or capacitation is unclear. The impact of exposing fresh boar spermatozoa to an ROS-generating system (xanthine/xanthine oxidase; XA/XO) on sperm ROS content, membrane lipid peroxidation, phospholipase (PL) A activity, and motility, viability, and capacitation was contrasted to ROS content and sperm function after cryopreservation. Exposing boar sperm (n = 4â5 ejaculates) to the ROS-generating system for 30 min rapidly increased hydrogen peroxide (H 2 O 2 ) and lipid peroxidation in all sperm, increased PLA in dead sperm, and did not affect intracellular O 2 Ëâ (flow cytometry of sperm labeled with 2â²,7â²-dichlorodihydrofluorscein diacetate, BODIPY 581/591 C11, bis-BODIPY-FL C11, hydroethidine, respectively; counterstained for viability). Sperm viability remained high, but sperm became immotile. Cryopreservation decreased sperm motility, viability, and intracellular O 2 Ëâ significantly, but did not affect H 2 O 2 . As expected, more sperm incubated in capacitating media than Beltsville thawing solution buffer underwent acrosome reactions and protein tyrosine phosphorylation (four proteins, 58â174 kDa); which proteins were tyrosine phosphorylated was pH dependent. Pre-exposing sperm to the ROS-generating system increased the percentage of sperm that underwent acrosome reactions after incubation in capacitating conditions ( P < 0.025), and decreased capacitation-dependent increases in two tyrosine-phosphorylated proteins ( P â¤ 0.035). In summary, H 2 O 2 is the major free radical mediating direct ROS effects, but not cryopreservation changes, on boar sperm. Boar sperm motility, acrosome integrity, and lipid peroxidation are more sensitive indicators of oxidative stress than viability and PLA activity. ROS may stimulate the acrosome reaction in boar sperm through membrane lipid peroxidation and PLA activation.
Vitamin A deficiency in the mouse results in an arrest in the progression of undifferentiated spermatogonia to differentiating spermatogonia. The supplement of retinol to vitamin-A-deficient mice reinitiates spermatogenesis in a synchronous manner throughout the testes. It is unclear whether the effects of retinoids are the result of a direct action on germ cells or are indirectly mediated through Sertoli cells. The expression of Stimulated by retinoic acid gene 8 ( Stra8) , which is required for spermatogenesis, is directly related to the availability of retinoic acid (RA). Analysis of gene expression by microarrays revealed moderate levels of Stra8 transcript in gonocytes and high levels in A and B spermatogonia. Stra8 mRNA levels were greatly reduced or absent in germ cells once they entered meiosis. This study examined the effect of retinoic acid on cultured neonatal testes and isolated gonocytes/spermatogonia in vitro. THY1 + and KIT + germ cells were isolated by magnetic-activated cell sorting from the testes of mice of different ages. Isolated germ cells were cultured and treated with either vehicle (ethanol) or RA without feeder cells. We found that 1) Stra8 is predominantly expressed in premeiotic germ cells, 2) RA stimulates gonocyte DNA replication and differentiation in cultured neonatal testes, 3) in the absence of feeder cells, RA directly induces the transition of undifferentiated spermatogonia to differentiating spermatogonia by stimulating Stra8 and Kit gene expression, 4) RA dramatically stimulates Stra8 expression in undifferentiated spermatogonia but has a lesser impact in differentiating spermatogonia, 5) endogenous Stra8 gene expression is higher in differentiating spermatogonia than in undifferentiated spermatogonia and could mediate the RA effects on spermatogonial maturation, and 6) RA stimulates a group of genes involved in the metabolism, storage, transport, and signaling of retinoids.