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.
Implantation failure and inadequate placental development are important contributors to infertility, recurrent miscarriage, and other pregnancy-related problems in women. Better understanding of these processes is hampered by the difficulty in obtaining human tissue from which primary cells can be prepared and by the very limited access worldwide to human blastocysts for experimentation. Therefore, the use of appropriate cell lines, particularly for functional studies of implantation and placentation, is imperative. While a number of cell lines for both endometrium and trophoblast have been developed and are widely used, it is difficult for researchers to decide which of these are most appropriate for studies of particular functions. This brief review summarizes the known phenotypes of the most widely used cell lines and indicates which might be the most appropriate for individual studies.
Formation of the germ cell lineage involves multiple processes, including repression of somatic differentiation and reacquisition of pluripotency as well as a unique epigenetic constitution. The transcriptional regulator Prdm1 has been identified as a main coordinator of this process, controlling epigenetic modification and gene expression. Here we report on the expression pattern of the transcription factor Tcfap2c , a putative downstream target of Prdm1 , during normal mouse embryogenesis and the consequences of its specific loss in primordial germ cells (PGCs) and their derivatives. Tcfap2c is expressed in PGCs from Embryonic Day 7.25 (E 7.25) up to E 12.5, and targeted disruption resulted in sterile animals, both male and female. In the mutant animals, PGCs were specified but were lost around E 8.0. PGCs generated in vitro from embryonic stem cells lacking TCFAP2C displayed induction of Prdm1 and Dppa3 . Upregulation of Hoxa1, Hoxb1, and T together with lack of expression of germ cell markers such Nanos3, Dazl, and Mutyh suggested that the somatic gene program is induced in TCFAP2C-deficient PGCs. Repression of TCFAP2C in TCam-2, a human PGC-resembling seminoma cell line, resulted in specific upregulation of HOXA1, HOXB1, MYOD1, and HAND1, indicative of mesodermal differentiation. Expression of genes indicative of ectodermal, endodermal, or extraembryonic differentiation, as well as the finding of no change to epigenetic modifications, suggested control by other factors. Our results implicate Tcfap2c as an important effector of Prdm1 activity that is required for PGC maintenance, most likely mediating Prdm1 -induced suppression of mesodermal differentiation.
Phosphoglycerate kinase 2 (PGK2), an isozyme that catalyzes the first ATP-generating step in the glycolytic pathway, is encoded by an autosomal retrogene that is expressed only during spermatogenesis. It replaces the ubiquitously expressed phosphoglycerate kinase 1 (PGK1) isozyme following repression of Pgk1 transcription by meiotic sex chromosome inactivation during meiotic prophase and by postmeiotic sex chromatin during spermiogenesis. The targeted disruption of Pgk2 by homologous recombination eliminates PGK activity in sperm and severely impairs male fertility, but does not block spermatogenesis. Mating behavior, reproductive organ weights (testis, excurrent ducts, and seminal vesicles), testis histology, sperm counts, and sperm ultrastructure were indistinguishable between Pgk2 â/â and wild-type mice. However, sperm motility and ATP levels were markedly reduced in males lacking PGK2. These defects in sperm function were slightly less severe than observed in males lacking glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, spermatogenic (GAPDHS), the isozyme that catalyzes the step preceding PGK2 in the sperm glycolytic pathway. Unlike Gapdhs â/â males, the Pgk2 â/â males also sired occasional pups. Alternative pathways that bypass the PGK step of glycolysis exist. We determined that one of these bypass enzymes, acylphosphatase, is active in mouse sperm, perhaps contributing to phenotypic differences between mice lacking GAPDHS or PGK2. This study determined that PGK2 is not required for the completion of spermatogenesis, but is essential for sperm motility and male fertility. In addition to confirming the importance of the glycolytic pathway for sperm function, distinctive phenotypic characteristics of Pgk2 â/â mice may provide further insights into the regulation of sperm metabolism.
Maternal obesity coupled with Western-style high-energy diets represents a special problem that can result in poor fetal development, leading to harmful, persistent effects on offspring, including predisposition to obesity and type 2 diabetes. Mechanisms linking maternal obesity to the increased incidence of obesity and other metabolic diseases in offspring remain poorly defined. Because skeletal muscle is the principal site for glucose and fatty acid utilization and composes 40%â50% of total body mass, changes in the properties of offspring skeletal muscle and its mass resulting from maternal obesity may be responsible for the increase in type 2 diabetes and obesity. Fetal stage is crucial for skeletal muscle development because there is no net increase in the muscle fiber number after birth. Fetal skeletal muscle development involves myogenesis, adipogenesis, and fibrogenesis, which are all derived from mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Shifting commitment of MSCs from myogenesis to adipogenesis and fibrogenesis will result in increased intramuscular fat and connective tissue, as well as reduced numbers of muscle fiber and/or diameter, all of which have lasting negative effects on offspring muscle function and properties. Maternal obesity leads to low-grade inflammation, which changes the commitment of MSCs in fetal muscle through several possible mechanisms: 1) inflammation downregulates wingless and int (WNT) signaling, which attenuates myogenesis; 2) inflammation inhibits AMP-activated protein kinase, which promotes adipogenesis; and 3) inflammation may induce epigenetic modification through polycomb group proteins. More studies are needed to further explore the underlying mechanisms associated with maternal obesity, inflammation, and the commitment of MSCs.
Tissue integrity relies on barriers formed between epithelial cells. In the testis, the barrier is formed at the initiation of puberty by a tight junction complex between adjacent Sertoli cells, thereby defining an adluminal compartment where meiosis and spermiogenesis occur. Claudin 11 is an obligatory protein for tight junction formation and barrier integrity in the testis. It is expressed by Sertoli cells, and spermatogenesis does not proceed beyond meiosis in its absence, resulting in male sterility. Sertoli cell maturationâarrest of proliferation and expression of proteins to support germ cell developmentâparallels tight junction assembly; however, the pathophysiology underlying the loss of tight junctions in the mature testis remains largely undefined. Here, using immunohistochemistry and microarrays we demonstrate that adult Cldn11 â/â mouse Sertoli cells can proliferate while maintaining expression of mature markers. Sertoli cells detach from the basement membrane, acquire a fibroblast cell shape, are eliminated through the lumen together with apoptotic germ cells, and are found in epididymis. These changes are associated with tight junction regulation as well as actin-related and cell cycle gene expression. Thus, Cldn11 â / â Sertoli cells exhibit a unique phenotype whereby loss of tight junction integrity results in loss of the epithelial phenotype.
In this study, we demonstrate the use of somatic cell nuclear transfer to produce the first cloned camelid, a dromedary camel ( Camelus dromedarius ) belonging to the family Camelidae. Donor karyoplasts were obtained from adult skin fibroblasts, cumulus cells, or fetal fibroblasts, and in vivo-matured oocytes, obtained from preovulatory follicles of superstimulated female camels by transvaginal ultrasound guided ovum pick-up, were used as cytoplasts. Reconstructed embryos were cultured in vitro for 7 days up to the hatching/hatched blastocyst stage before they were transferred to synchronized recipients on Day 6 after ovulation. Pregnancies were achieved from the embryos reconstructed from all cell types, and a healthy calf, named Injaz, was born from the pregnancy by an embryo reconstructed with cumulus cells. Genotype analyses, using 25 dromedary camel microsatellite markers, confirmed that the cloned calf was derived from the donor cell line and the ovarian tissue. In conclusion, the present study reports, for the first time, establishment of pregnancies and birth of the first cloned camelid, a dromedary camel ( C. dromedarius ), by use of somatic cell nuclear transfer. This has opened doors for the amelioration and preservation of genetically valuable animals like high milk producers, racing champions, and males of high genetic merit in camelids. We also demonstrated, for the first time, that adult and fetal fibroblasts can be cultured, expanded, and frozen without losing their ability to support the development of nuclear transfer embryos, a technology that may potentially be used to modify fibroblast genome by homologous recombination so as to generate genetically altered cloned animals.
Progestagenic sex steroid hormones play critical roles in reproduction across vertebrates, including teleost fish. To further our understanding of how progesterone modulates testis functions in fish, we set out to clone a progesterone receptor ( pgr ) cDNA exhibiting nuclear hormone receptor features from zebrafish testis. The open reading frame of pgr consists of 1854 bp, coding for a 617-amino acid-long protein showing the highest similarity with other piscine Pgr proteins. Functional characterization of the receptor expressed in mammalian cells revealed that zebrafish Pgr exhibited progesterone-specific, dose-dependent induction of reporter gene expression, with 17alpha,20beta-dihydroxy-4-pregnen-3-one (DHP), a typical piscine progesterone, showing the highest potency. Expression of pgr mRNA: 1) appeared in embryos at 8 h after fertilization; 2) was significantly higher in developing ovary than in early transforming testis at 4 wk of age but vice versa in young adults at 12 wk of age, and thus resembling the expression pattern of the germ cell marker piwil1 ; and, 3) was restricted to Leydig and Sertoli cells in adult testis. Zebrafish testicular explants released DHP concentration dependently in response to high concentrations of recombinant zebrafish gonadotropins. In addition, DHP stimulated 11-ketotestosterone release from zebrafish testicular explants, but only in the presence of its immediate precursor, 11beta-hydroxytestosterone. This stimulatory activity was blocked by a Pgr antagonist (RU486), suggesting that 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase activity was stimulated by DHP via Pgr. Our data suggest that DHP contributes to the regulation of Leydig cell steroidogenesis, and potentiallyâvia Sertoli cellsâalso to germ cell differentiation in zebrafish testis.
The zebrafish nuclear progestin receptor (nPR; official symbol PGR) was identified and characterized to better understand its role in regulating reproduction in this well-established teleost model. A full-length cDNA was identified that encoded a 617-amino acid residue protein with high homology to PGRs in other vertebrates, and contained five domains characteristic of nuclear steroid receptors. In contrast to the multiplicity of steroid receptors often found in euteleosts and attributed to probable genome duplication, only a single locus encoding the full-length zebrafish pgr was identified. Cytosolic proteins from pgr -transfected cells showed a high affinity ( K d = 2 nM), saturable, single-binding site specific for a native progestin in euteleosts, 4-pregnen-17,20beta-diol-3-one (17,20beta-DHP). Both 17,20beta-DHP and progesterone were potent inducers of transcriptional activity in cells transiently transfected with pgr in a dual luciferase reporter assay, whereas androgens and estrogens had little potency. The pgr transcript and protein were abundant in the ovaries, testis, and brain and were scarce or undetectable in the intestine, muscle, and gills. Further analyses indicate that Pgr was expressed robustly in the preoptic region of the hypothalamus in the brain; proliferating spermatogonia and early spermatocytes in the testis; and in follicular cells and early-stage oocytes (stages I and II), with very low levels within maturationally competent late-stage oocytes (IV) in the ovary. The localization of Pgr suggests that it mediates progestin regulation of reproductive signaling in the brain, early germ cell proliferation in testis, and ovarian follicular functions, but not final oocyte or sperm maturation.
The phosphodiesterase (PDE) family is a group of enzymes that catalyzes the transformation of cyclic nucleotides into 5â² nucleotides. Based on rodents, the current mammalian model of PDE distribution in the ovarian follicle predicts Pde3a in the oocyte and Pde4d in the somatic cells. Using bovine as an experimental model, the present results showed that PDE3 was the predominant PDE activity in oocytes. However, cumulus cell cAMP-PDE activity was predominantly resistant to inhibition by 3-isobutyl-methylxantine, indicating PDE8 activity (60% of total PDE activity) and a minor role for PDE4 (10 mm, total PDE and PDE8 activities along with PDE8A protein level were increased compared with smaller follicles. The RT-PCR experiments showed that cumulus cells expressed PDE8A , PDE8B , and PDE10A . Western blot experiments showed PDE8A, PDE8B, and PDE4D proteins in mural granulosa cells and cumulus-oocyte complexes. PDE8 inhibition using dipyridamole in a dose-dependent manner increased cAMP levels in the cumulus-oocyte complexes and delayed oocyte nuclear maturation. These results are the first to demonstrate the functional presence of PDE8 in the mammalian ovarian follicle. This challenges the recently described cell-specific expression of cAMP-PDEs in the ovarian follicle and the notion that PDE4 is the predominant granulosa/cumulus cell PDE. These findings have implications for our understanding of hormonal regulation of folliculogenesis and the potential application of PDE inhibitors as novel contraceptives.