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Stem cells derived from adult testes produce wide range of tissue types
Date:9/19/2007

ncer Center report that they have identified a novel cell surface marker that is expressed on a unique set of cells within adult testes known as the spermatogonial stem and progenitor cells (SPCs). The marker, GPR125, enabled the scientists to identify and harvest a large number of SPCs from adult mouse testes, then propagate and reprogram them in the lab to become stem cells that could differentiate into many cell types.

The researchers demonstrated that these multipotent adult spermatogonial-derived stem cells (MASCs) could develop in vivo into working blood vessel (endothelial) cells and tissue, as well as contractile cardiac tissue, brain cells, and a host of other cell types. They also injected MASCs from culture into mouse blastocystsembryonic cellsthat they implanted in mature female mice. When the blastocysts developed into mice, the researchers could see that the MASCs had differentiated into many kinds of tissue. These data suggested that the MASCs are truly multipotent: reprogrammable to differentiate into functional tissues.

Ten years ago, Rafii observed that human testicular cancer cells share many characteristics with adult stem cells. As an oncologist, he also noticed that a large number of patients with testicular cancer develop tumors called teratomas, which contain different types of tissue. Based on these observations, he reasoned that spermatogonia, whose sole function is to generate the precursors to sperm, have the potential to readily give rise to pluripotent cells. As such, he thought, they might prove more amenable to reprogramming than other adult stem cells.

Using gene screening studies, Rafii and colleagues discovered a potential specific surface marker on SPCs. Comparison of all cells in the adult testis showed that this G-protein coupled receptor, known as GPR125, was expressed on SPCs, but not other mature germ cells. With GPR125 in hand, Rafii could isolate large numbers of SPCs from adult mouse testes.

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Contact: Jim Keeley
keeleyj@hhmi.org
301-215-8858
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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