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Playing it safe
Date:7/7/2009

exist in the testis of adult humans and mice," says Schler. "However, it is often unclear as to exactly which cells are being referred to in the literature and what these cells can actually do." (See *Background Information)

This is not only due to the fact that the testis contains a multitude of different cells. Scientists who dismantle tissue in the laboratory must carefully separate and analyse the cells to establish which cell type they have under the microscope. The question of potency is a controversial one among stem cell researchers, as binding benchmarks have yet to be defined. What some scientists would define as "pluripotent" is just about deemed "multi-potent", that is, as having a limited capacity for differentiation, by others. Greater certainty can be provided by carrying out the relevant tests. These include, among other things, a test to establish whether, after injection into early embryos, the cells are able to contribute to the development of the new organism and gamete formation, and to pass on their genes to further generations. However, not every team carries out all of these tests and important questions are left unanswered, even in articles published in renowned journals.

Stable original cell line

With their work, Ko and his colleagues wanted to establish clarity from the outset. To this end, they started by culturing a precisely defined type of cell, so-called germline stem cells (GSCs), from the testis of adult mice. In their natural environment, these cells can only do one thing: constantly generate new sperm. Moreover, their own reproduction is an extremely rare occurrence. Only two or three of them will be found among the 10,000 cells in the testis tissue of a mouse. However, they can be isolated individually and reproduced as cell lines with stable characteristics. Under the usual cell culturing conditions, they retain their unipotency for weeks and years. Consequently, all they can do is reproduce or
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Contact: Dr. Jeanine Mller-Keuker
presse@mpi-muenster.mpg.de
49-251-703-65325
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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