Functional differences between GDNF-dependent and FGF2-dependent mouse spermatogonial stem cell self-renewal.
ABSTRACT: 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:Mice that are ets variant gene 5 (ETV5) null (Etv5(-/-)) undergo the first wave of spermatogenesis but lose all spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) during this time. The SSC loss in Etv5(-/-) mice begins during the neonatal period, suggesting a role for ETV5 in SSC self-renewal during this period. Herein, we show that Etv5 mRNA was present in perinatal mouse testis and that ETV5 was expressed in fetal Sertoli cells and by germ cells and Sertoli cells during the neonatal period. Transplantation of Etv5(-/-) germ cells failed to establish spermatogenesis in W/W(v) mice testes, indicating that germ cell ETV5 has a key role in establishment or self-renewal of transplanted SSCs. The SSC self-renewal is stimulated by glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) acting through the RET/GDNF family receptor alpha 1 (GFRA1) receptor complex in SSCs. Immunohistochemistry, quantitative PCR, and laser capture microdissection revealed decreased RET mRNA and protein expression in spermatogonia of neonatal Etv5(-/-) mice by Postnatal Days 4-8, indicating that disrupted GDNF/RET/GFRA1 signaling may occur before initial spermatogonial stem/progenitor cell decrease. Etv5(-/-) spermatogonia had reduced proliferation in vivo and in vitro. Decreased cell proliferation may cause the observed decreases in the number of type A spermatogonia (Postnatal Day 17) and daily sperm production (Postnatal Day 30) in Etv5(-/-) mice, indicating quantitative impairments in the first wave of spermatogenesis. In conclusion, ETV5 is expressed beginning in fetal Sertoli cells and can potentially have effects on neonatal Sertoli cells and germ cells. In addition, ETV5 has critical effects on neonatal spermatogonial proliferation, which may involve impaired signaling through the RET receptor.
Project description:In the murine testis, self-renewal of spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) requires glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) secreted from neighboring somatic cells. However, it not clear how GDNF promotes self-renewal in vivo or what downstream signaling pathways are required for SSC maintenance. We found that GDNF is normally expressed cyclically during spermatogenesis. Stage-specific ectopic expression of GDNF caused the accumulation of a GFRA1+ LIN28- Asingle population, which has enhanced SSC activity compared with wild type, suggesting that GDNF normally limits self-renewal to specific stages. Despite the increase in SSC cell number, EdU labeling during steady-stage spermatogenesis, and during recovery after busulfan-mediated spermatogonial depletion, indicated that GDNF promotes self-renewal by blocking differentiation and not by promoting proliferation. Increased GDNF signaling led to increased phosphorylation of AKT3 in undifferentiated spermatogonia, but not of AKT1 or AKT2, and was independent of RPS6 phosphorylation, suggesting that AKT3 functions in SSC self-renewal or progenitor cell expansion.
Project description:Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) are unique male germline stem cells that support spermatogenesis and male fertility. Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNA) have been identified as key regulators of stem cell fate; however, their role in SSCs has not been explored. Here, we report that a novel spermatogonia-specific lncRNA (lncRNA033862) is essential for the survival of murine SSCs. LncRNA033862 is expressed in early spermatogonia including SSC and was among 805 lncRNAs identified by global expression profiling as responsive to glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), a growth factor required for SSC self-renewal and survival. LncRNA033862 is an antisense transcript of the GDNF receptor alpha1 (Gfra1) that lacks protein coding potential and regulates Gfra1 expression levels by interacting with Gfra1 chromatin. Importantly, lncRNA033862 knockdown severely impairs SSC survival and their capacity to repopulate recipient testes in a transplantation assay. Collectively, our data provide the first evidence that long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) regulate SSC fate.
Project description:Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) undergo continuous self-renewal division in response to self-renewal factors. The present study identified ephrin type-A receptor 2 (EPHA2) on mouse SSCs and showed that supplementation of glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) and fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2), which are both SSC self-renewal factors, induced EPHA2 expression in cultured SSCs. Spermatogonial transplantation combined with magnetic-activated cell sorting or fluorescence-activated cell sorting also revealed that EPHA2 was expressed in SSCs. Additionally, ret proto-oncogene (RET) phosphorylation levels decreased following the knockdown (KD) of Epha2 expression via short hairpin ribonucleic acid (RNA). Although the present immunoprecipitation experiments did not reveal an association between RET with EPHA2, RET interacted with FGFR2. The Epha2 KD decreased the proliferation of cultured SSCs and inhibited the binding of cultured SSCs to laminin-coated plates. The Epha2 KD also significantly reduced the colonization of testis cells by spermatogonial transplantation. EPHA2 was also expressed in human GDNF family receptor alpha 1-positive spermatogonia. The present results indicate that SSCs express EPHA2 and suggest that it is a critical modifier of self-renewal signals in SSCs.
Project description:Since spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) are capable of both self-renewal and differentiation to daughter cells for subsequent spermatogenesis, the development of an efficient in vitro culture system is essential for studies related to spermatogenesis. Although the currently available system is serum-free and contains only chemically-defined components, it highly relies upon bovine serum albumin (BSA), a component with batch-to-batch quality variations similar to those of fetal bovine serum. Thus, we searched for an alternative BSA-free culture system that preserved the properties of SSCs. In this study, we utilized Knockout Serum Replacement (KSR) in the SSC culture medium, as a substitute for BSA. The results demonstrated that KSR supported the continuous growth of SSCs in vitro and the SSC activity in vivo without BSA, in a feeder-cell combination with mouse embryonic fibroblasts. The addition of BSA to KSR further facilitated cell cycle progression, whereas a transplantation assay revealed that the addition of BSA did not affect the number of SSCs in vivo. The combination of KSR with BSA also allowed the elimination of GFRA1 and FGF2, and the reduction of the GDNF concentration from 20 ng/ml to 5 ng/ml, while maintaining the growth rate and the expression of SSC markers. Furthermore, KSR was also useful with SSCs from non-DBA/2 strains, such as C57BL/6 and ICR. These results suggested that KSR is an effective substitute for BSA for long-term in vitro cultures of SSCs. Therefore, this method is practical for various studies related to SSCs, including spermatogenesis and germ stem cell biology.
Project description:Previous studies suggest that exogenous factors crucial for spermatogonial stem cell (SSC) self-renewal are conserved among several mammalian species. Since glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) and fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2) are critical for rodent SSC self-renewal, we hypothesized that they might promote self-renewal of nonrodent SSCs. Therefore, we cultured testicular germ cells from prepubertal rabbits in the presence of GDNF and FGF2 and found they proliferated indefinitely as cellular clumps that displayed characteristics previously identified for rodent SSCs. The rabbit germ cells could not be maintained on mouse embryonic fibroblast (STO) feeders that support rodent SSC self-renewal in vitro but were rather supported on mouse yolk sac-derived endothelial cell (C166) feeder layers. Proliferation of rabbit germ cells was dependent on GDNF. Of critical importance was that clump-forming rabbit germ cells colonized seminiferous tubules of immunodeficient mice, proliferated for at least 6 mo, while retaining an SSC phenotype in the testes of recipient mice, indicating that they were rabbit SSCs. This study demonstrates that GDNF is a mitogenic factor promoting self-renewal that is conserved between rodent and rabbit SSCs; with an evolutionary separation of ? 60 million years. These findings provide a foundation to study the mechanisms governing SSC self-renewal in nonrodent species.
Project description:Melatonin has been reported to be an important endogenous hormone for regulating neurogenesis, immunityand the biological clock. Recently, the effects of melatonin on neural stem cells (NSCs), mesenchymal stem cells(MSCs), and induced pluripotent stem cells(iPSCs) have been reported; however, the effects of melatonin on spermatogonia stem cells (SSCs) are not clear. Here, 1?M and 1nM melatonin was added to medium when goat SSCs were cultured in vitro, the results showed that melatonin could increase the formation and size of SSC colonies. Real-time quantitative PCR (QRT-PCR) and western blot analysis showed that the expression levels of SSC proliferation and self-renewal markers were up-regulated. Meanwhile, QRT-PCR results showed that melatonin inhibit the mRNA expression level of SSC differentiation markers. ELISA analysis showed an obvious increase in the concentration of GDNF (a niche factor secreted by Sertoli cells) in the medium when treated with melatonin. Meanwhile, the phosphorylation level of AKT, a downstream of GDNF-GFRa1-RET pathway was activated. In conclusion, melatonin promotes goat SSC proliferation by stimulating GDNF production in Sertoli cells.
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:The development of a stem cell culture system would expedite our understanding of the biology of tissue regeneration. Spermatogonial stem cell (SSC) is the foundation for lifelong male spermatogenesis and the SSC culture has been optimized continuously in recent years. However, there have been many inconveniences to reconstruct SSC self-renewal and proliferation in vitro, such as the frequent refreshment of recombinant cytokines, including GDNF, the essential growth factor for SSC maintenance. In the present study, we observed that both STO and MEF cells, which were previously used as feeders for SSC growth, did not express GDNF, but a GDNF-expressing STO feeder could support undifferentiated mouse spermatogonia propagation in vitro for three months without the refreshment of recombinant growth factor GDNF. The cell morphology, growth rate and SSC-associated gene expression remained identical to the SSCs cultured using previous methods. The transplantation of SSCs growing on these GDNF-expressing STO feeders could generate extensive colonies of spermatogenesis in recipient testes, functionally validating the stemness of these cells. Collectively, our data indicated that the further modification of feeder cells might facilitate the self-renewal and propagation of SSCs in vitro.
Project description:Spermatogenesis originates from self-renewal of spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs). Previous studies have reported conflicting roles of gonadotropic pituitary hormones in SSC self-renewal. Here, we explored the role of hormonal regulation of SSCs using Fshb and Lhcgr knockout (KO) mice. Although follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is thought to promote self-renewal by glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), no abnormalities were found in SSCs and their microenvironment. In contrast, SSCs were enriched in Lhcgr-deficient mice. Moreover, wild-type SSCs transplanted into Lhcgr-deficient mice showed enhanced self-renewal. Microarray analysis revealed that Lhcgr-deficient testes have enhanced WNT5A expression in Sertoli cells, which showed an immature phenotype. Since WNT5A was upregulated by anti-androgen treatment, testosterone produced by luteinizing hormone (LH) is required for Sertoli cell maturation. WNT5A promoted SSC activity both in vitro and in vivo. Therefore, FSH is not responsible for GDNF regulation, while LH negatively regulates SSC self-renewal by suppressing WNT5A via testosterone.