MiRNA signature in mouse spermatogonial stem cells revealed by high-throughput sequencing.
ABSTRACT: Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) play fundamental roles in spermatogenesis. Although a handful of genes have been discovered as key regulators of SSC self-renewal and differentiation, the regulatory network responsible for SSC function remains unclear. In particular, small RNA signatures during mouse spermatogenesis are not yet systematically investigated. Here, using next generation sequencing, we compared small RNA signatures of in vitro expanded SSCs, testis-derived somatic cells (Sertoli cells), developing germ cells, mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs), and mouse mesenchymal stem cells among mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) to address small RNA transition during mouse spermatogenesis. The results manifest that small RNA transition during mouse spermatogenesis displays overall declined expression profiles of miRNAs and endo-siRNAs, in parallel with elevated expression profiles of piRNAs, resulting in the normal biogenesis of sperms. Meanwhile, several novel miRNAs were preferentially expressed in mouse SSCs, and further investigation of their functional annotation will allow insights into the mechanisms involved in the regulation of SSC activities. We also demonstrated the similarity of miRNA signatures between SSCs and ESCs, thereby providing a new clue to understanding the molecular basis underlying the easy conversion of SSCs to ESCs.
Project description:Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) provide the foundation for spermatogenesis throughout the life of a male. Because SSCs of many species can colonize the mouse testis, and glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) is responsible for stimulating SSC self-renewal in rodents, we reasoned that molecular mechanisms of SSC self-renewal are similar across species. GDNF-regulated genes have been identified in mouse SSCs; however, downstream targets of GDNF are unknown in other species. The objective of this work was to identify GDNF-regulated genes in rat SSCs and to define the biological significance of these genes for rat SSC self-renewal. We conducted microarray analysis on cultured rat germ cells enriched for SSCs in the presence and absence of GDNF. Many GDNF-regulated genes were identified, most notably, Bcl6b and Etv5, which are important for mouse SSC self-renewal. Bcl6b was the most highly regulated gene in both the rat and mouse. Additionally, we identified three novel GDNF-regulated genes in rat SSCs: Bhlhe40, Hoxc4, and Tec. Small interfering RNA treatment for Bcl6b, Etv5, Bhlhe40, Hoxc4, and Tec resulted in a decrease in SSC number, as determined by transplantation, without a change in total cell number within the culture. These data indicate that, like in the mouse SSC, Bcl6b and Etv5 are important for rat SSC self-renewal, suggesting that these genes may be important for SSCs in all mammals. Furthermore, identification of three novel GDNF-regulated genes in the rat SSC extends our knowledge of SSC activity and broadens the foundation for understanding this process in higher species, including humans.
Project description:miRNAs play important roles during mammalian spermatogenesis. However, the function of most miRNAs in spermatogenesis and the underlying mechanisms remain unknown. Here, we report that miR-202 is highly expressed in mouse spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs), and is oppositely regulated by Glial cell-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (GDNF) and retinoic acid (RA), two key factors for SSC self-renewal and differentiation. We used inducible CRISPR-Cas9 to knockout miR-202 in cultured SSCs, and found that the knockout SSCs initiated premature differentiation accompanied by reduced stem cell activity and increased mitosis and apoptosis. Target genes were identified with iTRAQ-based proteomic analysis and RNA sequencing, and are enriched with cell cycle regulators and RNA-binding proteins. Rbfox2 and Cpeb1 were found to be direct targets of miR-202 and Rbfox2 but not Cpeb1, is essential for the differentiation of SSCs into meiotic cells. Accordingly, an SSC fate-regulatory network composed of signaling molecules of GDNF and RA, miR-202 and diverse downstream effectors has been identified.
Project description:Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) are required for spermatogenesis. Earlier studies showed that glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) was indispensable for SSC self-renewal by binding to the GFRA1/RET receptor. Mice with mutations in these molecules showed impaired spermatogenesis, which was attributed to SSC depletion. Here we show that SSCs undergo GDNF-independent self-renewal. A small number of spermatogonia formed colonies when testis fragments from a Ret mutant mouse strain were transplanted into heterologous recipients. Moreover, fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2) supplementation enabled in vitro SSC expansion without GDNF. Although GDNF-mediated self-renewal signaling required both AKT and MAP2K1/2, the latter was dispensable in FGF2-mediated self-renewal. FGF2-depleted testes exhibited increased levels of GDNF and were enriched for SSCs, suggesting that the balance between FGF2 and GDNF levels influences SSC self-renewal in vivo. Our results show that SSCs exhibit at least two modes of self-renewal and suggest complexity of SSC regulation in vivo.
Project description:Human adult spermatogenesis balances spermatogonial stem cell (SSC) self-renewal and differentiation, alongside complex germ cell-niche interactions, to ensure long-term fertility and faithful genome propagation. Here, we performed single-cell RNA sequencing of ~6500 testicular cells from young adults. We found five niche/somatic cell types (Leydig, myoid, Sertoli, endothelial, macrophage), and observed germline-niche interactions and key human-mouse differences. Spermatogenesis, including meiosis, was reconstructed computationally, revealing sequential coding, non-coding, and repeat-element transcriptional signatures. Interestingly, we identified five discrete transcriptional/developmental spermatogonial states, including a novel early SSC state, termed State 0. Epigenetic features and nascent transcription analyses suggested developmental plasticity within spermatogonial States. To understand the origin of State 0, we profiled testicular cells from infants, and identified distinct similarities between adult State 0 and infant SSCs. Overall, our datasets describe key transcriptional and epigenetic signatures of the normal adult human testis, and provide new insights into germ cell developmental transitions and plasticity.
Project description:Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) are essential for long-term spermatogenesis and are the subject of considerable clinical interest, as 'SSC therapy' has the potential to cure some forms of male infertility. Recently, we have learned more about SSCs and spermatogenesis in general from a plethora of studies that performed single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNAseq) analysis on dissociated cells from human, macaque, and/or mice testes. Here, we discuss what scRNAseq analysis has revealed about SSC precursor cells, the initial generation of SSCs during perinatal development, and their heterogeneity once established. scRNAseq studies have also uncovered unexpected heterogeneity of the larger class of cells that includes SSCs - undifferentiated spermatogonia. This raises the controversial possibility that multiple SSC subsets exist, which has implications for mechanisms underlying spermatogenesis and future SSC therapeutic approaches.
Project description:Maintenance of adult tissues depends on stem cell self-renewal in local niches. Spermatogonial stem cells (SSC) are germline adult stem cells necessary for spermatogenesis and fertility. We show that testicular endothelial cells (TECs) are part of the SSC niche producing glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) and other factors to support human and mouse SSCs in long-term culture. We demonstrate that FGF-2 binding to FGFR1 on TECs activates the calcineurin pathway to produce GDNF. Comparison of the TEC secretome to lung and liver endothelial cells identified 5 factors sufficient for long-term maintenance of human and mouse SSC colonies in feeder-free cultures. Male cancer survivors after chemotherapy are often infertile since SSCs are highly susceptible to cytotoxic injury. Transplantation of TECs alone restores spermatogenesis in mice after chemotherapy-induced depletion of SSCs. Identifying TECs as a niche population necessary for SSC self-renewal may facilitate fertility preservation for prepubertal boys diagnosed with cancer.
Project description:Male mammals produce sperm for most of postnatal life and therefore require a robust germ line stem cell system, with precise balance between self-renewal and differentiation. Prior work established doublesex- and mab-3-related transcription factor 1 (Dmrt1) as a conserved transcriptional regulator of male sexual differentiation. Here we investigate the role of Dmrt1 in mouse spermatogonial stem cell (SSC) homeostasis. We find that Dmrt1 maintains SSCs during steady state spermatogenesis, where it regulates expression of Plzf, another transcription factor required for SSC maintenance. We also find that Dmrt1 is required for recovery of spermatogenesis after germ cell depletion. Committed progenitor cells expressing Ngn3 normally do not contribute to SSCs marked by the Id4-Gfp transgene, but do so when spermatogonia are chemically depleted using busulfan. Removal of Dmrt1 from Ngn3-positive germ cells blocks the replenishment of Id4-GFP-positive SSCs and recovery of spermatogenesis after busulfan treatment. Our data therefore reveal that Dmrt1 supports SSC maintenance in two ways: allowing SSCs to remain in the stem cell pool under normal conditions; and enabling progenitor cells to help restore the stem cell pool after germ cell depletion.
Project description:Self-renewal and differentiation by spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) is the foundation for continual spermatogenesis. SSC self-renewal is dependent on glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF); however, intracellular mechanisms stimulated by GDNF in SSCs are unknown. To investigate these mechanisms we utilized a culture system that maintains a mouse undifferentiated germ cell population enriched for self-renewing SSCs. In these cultures mRNA for the transcription factors Bcl6b, Erm, and Lhx1 are up-regulated by GDNF and decreased in its absence. The expression of all three molecules was further identified in undifferentiated spermatogonia in vivo. Using small interfering RNA to reduce expression and transplantation to quantify stem cell numbers, Bcl6b, Erm, and Lhx1 were shown to be important for SSC maintenance in vitro. Next, GDNF was shown to activate both Akt and Src family kinase (SFK) signaling in SSCs, and culture of SSCs with inhibitors to Akt or SFKs followed by transplantation analysis showed significant impairment of SSC maintenance in vitro. Apoptosis analysis revealed a significant increase in the percentage of apoptotic cells when Akt, but not SFK, signaling was impaired, indicating that multiple signaling pathways are responsible for SSC self-renewal and survival. Biochemical and gene expression experiments revealed that GDNF up-regulated expression of Bcl6b, Erm, and Lhx1 transcripts is dependent on SFK signaling. Overall, these data demonstrate that GDNF up-regulation of Bcl6b, Erm, and Lhx1 expression through SFK signaling is a key component of the intracellular mechanism for SSC self-renewal.
Project description:Spermatogenesis is a complex and dynamic cellular differentiation process critical to male reproduction and sustained by spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs). Although patterns of gene expression have been described for aggregates of certain spermatogenic cell types, the full continuum of gene expression patterns underlying ongoing spermatogenesis in steady state was previously unclear. Here, we catalog single-cell transcriptomes for >62,000 individual spermatogenic cells from immature (postnatal day 6) and adult male mice and adult men. This allowed us to resolve SSC and progenitor spermatogonia, elucidate the full range of gene expression changes during male meiosis and spermiogenesis, and derive unique gene expression signatures for multiple mouse and human spermatogenic cell types and/or subtypes. These transcriptome datasets provide an information-rich resource for studies of SSCs, male meiosis, testicular cancer, male infertility, or contraceptive development, as well as a gene expression roadmap to be emulated in efforts to achieve spermatogenesis in vitro.
Project description:Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) derived from mouse testis are unipotent in regard of spermatogenesis. Our previous study demonstrated that SSCs can be fully reprogrammed into pluripotent stem cells, so called germline-derived pluripotent stem cells (gPS cells), on feeder cells (mouse embryonic fibroblasts), which supports SSC proliferation and induction of pluripotency. Because of an uncontrollable microenvironment caused by interactions with feeder cells, feeder-based SSC reprogramming is not suitable for elucidation of the self-reprogramming mechanism by which SSCs are converted into pluripotent stem cells. Recently, we have established a Matrigel-based SSC expansion culture system that allows long-term SSC proliferation without mouse embryonic fibroblast support. In this study, we developed a new feeder-free SSC self-reprogramming protocol based on the Matrigel-based culture system. The gPS cells generated using a feeder-free reprogramming system showed pluripotency at the molecular and cellular levels. The differentiation potential of gPS cells was confirmed in vitro and in vivo. Our study shows for the first time that the induction of SSC pluripotency can be achieved without feeder cells. The newly developed feeder-free self-reprogramming system could be a useful tool to reveal the mechanism by which unipotent cells are self-reprogrammed into pluripotent stem cells.