Self-Reprogramming of Spermatogonial Stem Cells into Pluripotent Stem Cells without Microenvironment of Feeder Cells.
ABSTRACT: 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.
Project description:Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) are unipotent adult stem cells, capable of differentiating into sperm cells. SSCs can be cultured in vitro for a long time. SSCs expressing Oct4, a pluripotency marker, and are the only adult cells which pluripotency can be induced under defined culture conditions. However, because 2D culture imposes limitations in cell junction formation, cell shape, metabolism, response to stimuli, and cell interface with medium, mechanistic studies on reprogramming of SSCs using feeder cells still have many challenges. Recent studies have shown that a culture system using a bio-matrix can be used in long-term feeder-free SSCs culture and for induction of pluripotency in SSCs. However, the bio-matrix cannot be the optimal micro-environment in mechanistic studies because it creates a physical barrier to growth factors and other signaling molecules. To overcome this effect of the matrix, we reprogrammed SSCs into pluripotent ESC-like cells, so-called germline-derived pluripotent stem cells (gPSCs) by using a 3D scaffold, in which cells are less responsive to external stimuli than in 2D cultures. Thus, we confirm the possibility of SSC reprogramming in the spheroidal state and suggest the utility of 3D scaffolds as a tool for studying the mechanism of SSC reprogramming into gPSCs without a bio-matrix.
Project description:Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs), which are unipotent stem cells in the testes that give rise to sperm, can be converted into germline-derived pluripotent stem (gPS) by self-induction. The androgenetic imprinting pattern of SSCs is maintained even after their reprogramming into gPS cells. In this study, we used an in vitro neural differentiation model to investigate whether the imprinting patterns are maintained or altered during differentiation. The androgenetic patterns of H19, Snrpn, and Mest were maintained even after differentiation of gPS cells into NSCs (gPS-NSCs), whereas the fully unmethylated status of Ndn in SSCs was altered to somatic patterns in gPS cells and gPS-NSCs. Thus, our study demonstrates epigenetic alteration of genomic imprinting during the induction of pluripotency in SSCs and neural differentiation, suggesting that gPS-NSCs can be a useful model to study the roles of imprinted genes in brain development and human neurodevelopmental disorders.
Project description:Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) present the potential to acquire pluripotency under specific culture conditions. However, the frequency of pluripotent cell derivation is low, and the mechanism of SSC reprogramming remains unknown. In this study, we report that induction of global DNA hypomethylation in germline stem (GS) cells (cultured SSCs) induces pluripotent cell derivation. When DNA demethylation was triggered by Dnmt1 depletion, GS cells underwent apoptosis. However, GS cells were converted into embryonic stem (ES)-like cells by double knockdown of Dnmt1 and p53. This treatment down-regulated Dmrt1, a gene involved in sexual differentiation, meiosis, and pluripotency. Dmrt1 depletion caused apoptosis of GS cells, but a combination of Dmrt1 and p53 depletion also induced pluripotency. Functional screening of putative Dmrt1 target genes revealed that Dmrt1 depletion up-regulates Sox2. Sox2 transfection up-regulated Oct4 and produced pluripotent cells. This conversion was enhanced by Oct1 depletion, suggesting that the balance of Oct proteins maintains SSC identity. These results suggest that spontaneous SSC reprogramming is caused by unstable DNA methylation and that a Dmrt1-Sox2 cascade is critical for regulating pluripotency in SSCs.
Project description:Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs, also called germline stem cells) are self-renewing unipotent stem cells that produce differentiating germ cells in the testis. SSCs can be isolated from the testis and cultured in vitro for long-term periods in the presence of feeder cells (often mouse embryonic fibroblasts). However, the maintenance of SSC feeder culture systems is tedious because preparation of feeder cells is needed at each subculture. In this study, we developed a Matrigel-based feeder-free culture system for long-term propagation of SSCs. Although several in vitro SSC culture systems without feeder cells have been previously described, our Matrigel-based feeder-free culture system is time- and cost- effective, and preserves self-renewability of SSCs. In addition, the growth rate of SSCs cultured using our newly developed system is equivalent to that in feeder cultures. We confirmed that the feeder-free cultured SSCs expressed germ cell markers both at the mRNA and protein levels. Furthermore, the functionality of feeder-free cultured SSCs was confirmed by their transplantation into germ cell-depleted mice. These results suggest that our newly developed feeder-free culture system provides a simple approach to maintaining SSCs in vitro and studying the basic biology of SSCs, including determination of their fate.
Project description:The male germinal lineage, which is defined as unipotent, produces sperm through spermatogenesis. However, embryonic primordial germ cells and postnatal spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) can change their fate and convert to pluripotency in culture when they are not controlled by the testicular microenvironment. The mechanisms underlying these reprogramming processes are poorly understood. Testicular germ cell tumors, including teratoma, share some molecular characteristics with pluripotent cells, suggesting that cancer could result from an abnormal differentiation of primordial germ cells or from an abnormal conversion of SCCs to pluripotency in the testis. Here, we investigated whether the somatic reprogramming factors Oct3/4, Sox2, Klf4 and c-Myc (OSKM) could play a role in SSCs reprogramming and induce pluripotency using a doxycycline-inducible transgenic Col1a1-4F2A-OSKM mouse model. We showed that, in contrast to somatic cells, SSCs from adult mice are resistant to this reprogramming strategy, even in combination with small molecules, hypoxia, or p53 deficiency, which were previously described to favour the conversion of somatic cells to pluripotency. This finding suggests that adult SSCs have developed specific mechanisms to repress reprogramming by OSKM factors, contributing to circumvent testicular cancer initiation events.
Project description:Unipotent spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) can be efficiently reprogrammed into pluripotent stem cells only by manipulating the culture condition, without introducing exogenous reprogramming factors. This phenotype raises the hypothesis that the endogenous transcription factors (TFs) in SSCs may facilitate reprogramming to acquire pluripotency. In this study, we screened a pool of SSCs TFs (Bcl6b, Lhx1, Foxo1, Plzf, Id4, Taf4b, and Etv5), and found that oncogene Etv5 could dramatically increase the efficiency of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) generation when combined with Yamanaka factors. We also demonstrated that Etv5 could promote mesenchymal-epithelial transition (MET) at the early stage of reprogramming by regulating Tet2-miR200s-Zeb1 axis. In addition, Etv5 knockdown in mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) could decrease the genomic 5hmC level by downregulating Tet2. Furthermore, the embryoid body assay revealed that Etv5 could positively regulate primitive endoderm specification through regulating Gata6 and negatively regulate epiblast specification by inhibiting Fgf5 expression. In summary, our findings provide insights into understanding the regulation mechanisms of Etv5 under the context of somatic reprogramming, mESCs maintenance, and differentiation.
Project description:Unipotent spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) can be transformed into ESC-like cells that exhibit pluripotency in vitro. However, except for mouse models, their characterization and their origins have remained controversies in other models including humans. This controversy has arisen primarily from the lack of the direct induction of ESC-like cells from well-characterized SSCs. Thus, the aim of the present study was to find and characterize pluripotent human SSCs in in vitro cultures of characterized SSCs. Human testicular tissues were dissociated and plated onto gelatin/laminin-coated dishes to isolate SSCs. In the presence of growth factors SSCs formed multicellular clumps after 2-4 weeks of culture. At passages 1 and 5, the clumps were dissociated and were then analyzed using markers of pluripotent cells. The number of SSEA-4-positive cells was extremely low but increased gradually up to ~?10% in the SSC clumps during culture. Most of the SSEA-4-negative cells expressed markers for SSCs, and some cells coexpressed markers of both pluripotent and germ cells. The pluripotent cells formed embryoid bodies and teratomas that contained derivatives of the three germ layers in SCID mice. These results suggest that the pluripotent cells present within the clumps were derived directly from SSCs during in vitro culture.
Project description:Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) are germline stem cells located along the basement membrane of seminiferous tubules in testes. Recently, SSCs were shown to be reprogrammed into multipotent SSCs (mSSCs). However, both the key factors and biological networks underlying this reprogramming remain elusive. Here, we present transcriptional regulatory networks (TRNs) that control cellular processes related to the SSC-to-mSSC reprogramming. Previously, we established intermediate SSCs (iSSCs) undergoing the transition to mSSCs and generated gene expression profiles of SSCs, iSSCs and mSSCs. By comparing these profiles, we identified 2643 genes that were up-regulated during the reprogramming process and 15 key transcription factors (TFs) that regulate these genes. Using the TF-target relationships, we developed TRNs describing how these TFs regulate three pluripotency-related processes (cell proliferation, stem cell maintenance and epigenetic regulation) during the reprogramming. The TRNs showed that 4 of the 15 TFs (Oct4/Pou5f1, Cux1, Zfp143 and E2f4) regulated cell proliferation during the early stages of reprogramming, whereas 11 TFs (Oct4/Pou5f1, Foxm1, Cux1, Zfp143, Trp53, E2f4, Esrrb, Nfyb, Nanog, Sox2 and Klf4) regulated the three pluripotency-related processes during the late stages of reprogramming. Our TRNs provide a model for the temporally coordinated transcriptional regulation of pluripotency-related processes during the SSC-to-mSSC reprogramming, which can be further tested in detailed functional studies.
Project description:Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) can spontaneously dedifferentiate into embryonic stem cell (ESC)-like cells, which are designated as multipotent SSCs (mSSCs), without ectopic expression of reprogramming factors. Interestingly, SSCs express key pluripotency genes such as Oct4, Sox2, Klf4 and Myc. Therefore, molecular dissection of mSSC reprogramming may provide clues about novel endogenous reprogramming or pluripotency regulatory factors. Our comparative transcriptome analysis of mSSCs and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) suggests that they have similar pluripotency states but are reprogrammed via different transcriptional pathways. We identified 53 genes as putative pluripotency regulatory factors using an integrated systems biology approach. We demonstrated a selected candidate, Positive cofactor 4 (Pc4), can enhance the efficiency of somatic cell reprogramming by promoting and maintaining transcriptional activity of the key reprograming factors. These results suggest that Pc4 has an important role in inducing spontaneous somatic cell reprogramming via up-regulation of key pluripotency genes.
Project description:Spermatogonial stem and progenitor cells (SSCs) generate adult male gametes. During in vitro expansion, these unipotent murine cells spontaneously convert to multipotent adult spermatogonial-derived stem cells (MASCs). Here we investigate this conversion process through integrative transcriptomic and epigenomic analyses. We find in SSCs that promoters essential to maintenance and differentiation of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are enriched with histone H3-lysine4 and -lysine 27 trimethylations. These bivalent modifications are maintained at most somatic promoters after conversion, bestowing MASCs an ESC-like promoter chromatin. At enhancers, the core pluripotency circuitry is activated partially in SSCs and completely in MASCs, concomitant with loss of germ cell-specific gene expression and initiation of embryonic-like programs. Furthermore, SSCs in vitro maintain the epigenomic characteristics of germ cells in vivo. Our observations suggest that SSCs encode innate plasticity through the epigenome and that both conversion of promoter chromatin states and activation of cell type-specific enhancers are prominent features of reprogramming.