Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Derived From Two Idiopathic Azoospermia Patients Display Compromised Differentiation Potential for Primordial Germ Cell Fate.
ABSTRACT: At present, the etiology of most non-obstructive azoospermia (NOA) remains unclear. In vitro generation of patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) is an effective approach for exploring the mechanisms of human disease. Here, we established iPSCs from two patients with idiopathic NOA and differentiated them into primordial germ cell-like cells (PGCLCs) in vitro. Compared with iPSCs derived from normal fertile men, the NOA patient-specific iPSCs show decreased efficiency of PGCLC formation in vitro. Particularly, the embryoids derived from NOA patient-specific iPSCs show defects in the expression of early primordial germ cell (PGC) genes. The transcriptome analysis reveals the expression patterns of key human PGC genes are generally similar in PGCLCs differentiated from all iPSC lines, and the differentially expressed genes were enriched with gene ontology (GO) of cell cycle and apoptosis regulation. Moreover, the PGCLCs derived from NOA patient-specific iPSCs might have initiated epigenetic reprogramming at a very early stage. Thus, the NOA patient-specific iPSCs exhibit poor response to germ cell induction in vitro, which may be related to the regulation of apoptotic process. These findings provide a foundation for future research on mechanism of male infertility.
Project description:BACKGROUND:In mammals, specification of primordial germ cells (PGCs) is established in the early post-implantation embryo. The bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-SMAD and WNT3-?-catenin signaling initiate the gene regulatory network for PGC specification. The activation of SOX17-BLIMP1 axis is critical for human PGC program. Moreover, EpCAM and INTEGRIN?6 were identified as surface markers of human PGC-like cells (PGCLCs) recently. However, the signaling mechanism for PGC specification in non-rodent mammals remains to be clarified. METHODS:We differentiated human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) into PGCLCs in vitro in response to Activin A and BMP4. The percentage of EpCAM/INTEGRIN?6 double-positive cells (PGCLCs) was analyzed by flow cytometry. The expression of PGC genes was evaluated by qRT-PCR and immunofluorescence. The expression dynamic of multi-lineage genes during the differentiation process was evaluated by qRT-PCR. RESULTS:Under the stimulation for PGCLC induction, the embryoids derived from hiPSCs initiated significant upregulation of the early PGC genes (BLIMP1, TFAP2C, and NANOS3), but maintained low or no levels of DPPA3 and late PGC genes (DAZL and DDX4). The percentage of EpCAM/INTEGRIN?6 double-positive PGCLCs reached the highest at day 6 of induction. After pre-induction, the incipient mesoderm-like cells (iMeLCs) upregulated most of the mesoderm genes (EOMES, T, MSXI, RUNX2, and MIXL1). The differentiating embryoids showed high levels of key pluripotency genes, OCT4 and NANOG, but became negative for SOX2. In contrast to iMeLCs, the differentiating embryoids downregulated mesoderm genes RUNX2 and EOMES, and ectoderm gene PAX6, but increased the expression of endoderm gene SOX17. CONCLUSIONS:During PGCLC induction process in vitro, the differentiating embryoids not only activated the PGC-related genes, but also displayed complex regulation of pluripotency genes and multi-lineage genes. These results would be meaningful for future research investigating the regulation of human early germ line development.
Project description:Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are powerful tools for basic and translational research, as well as regenerative medicine. In routine human in vitro fertilization (IVF) practices, cumulus cells (CCs) are discarded, representing a potential source of biological materials for regenerative medicine. In this study, we derived patient-specific iPSCs using CCs from human infertility clinics for the first time. The human cumulus cell derived iPSCs (hc-iPSCs) were characterized for growth, karyotype, expression of pluripotency genes, and were subjected to embryoid bodies (EBs) and teratoma assays to evaluate their differentiation capacity. Hc-iPSCs display typical iPSC characteristics, and are capable of differentiating into all germ layers in vitro and in vivo. We further show that putative primordial germ cell like cells (PGCLCs) can be derived using hc-iPSCs. Our data demonstrate the feasibility of deriving patient-specific pluripotent stem cells using CCs.
Project description:The mechanism for sex determination in mammalian germ cells remains unclear. Here, we reconstitute the female sex determination in mouse germ cells in vitro under a defined condition without the use of gonadal somatic cells. We show that retinoic acid (RA) and its key effector, STRA8, are not sufficient to induce the female germ-cell fate. In contrast, bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) and RA synergistically induce primordial germ cells (PGCs)/PGC-like cells (PGCLCs) derived from embryonic stem cells (ESCs) into fetal primary oocytes. The induction is characterized by entry into the meiotic prophase, occurs synchronously and recapitulates cytological and transcriptome progression in vivo faithfully. Importantly, the female germ-cell induction necessitates a proper cellular competence-most typically, DNA demethylation of relevant genes-which is observed in appropriately propagated PGCs/PGCLCs, but not in PGCs/PGCLCs immediately after induction. This provides an explanation for the differential function of BMP signaling between PGC specification and female germ-cell induction. Our findings represent a framework for a comprehensive delineation of the sex-determination pathway in mammalian germ cells, including humans.
Project description:Primordial germ cells (PGCs) develop only into sperm and oocytes in vivo. The molecular mechanisms underlying human PGC specification are poorly understood due to inaccessibility of cell materials and lack of in vitro models for tracking the earliest stages of germ cell development. Here, we describe a defined and stepwise differentiation system for inducing pre-migratory PGC-like cells (PGCLCs) from human pluripotent stem cells (PSCs). In response to cytokines, PSCs differentiate first into a heterogeneous mesoderm-like cell population and then into PGCLCs, which exhibit minimal PRDM14 expression. PGC specification in humans is similar to the murine process, with the sequential activation of mesodermal and PGC genes, and the suppression of neural induction and of de novo DNA methylation, suggesting that human PGC formation is induced via epigenesis, the process of germ cell specification via inductive signals from surrounding somatic cells. This study demonstrates that PGC commitment in humans shares key features with that of the mouse, but also highlights key differences, including transcriptional regulation during the early stage of human PGC development (3-6 weeks). A more comprehensive understanding of human germ cell development may lead to methodology for successfully generating PSC-derived gametes for reproductive medicine.
Project description:The embryonic stem cell cycle (ESCC) and let-7 families of miRNAs function antagonistically in the switch between mouse embryonic stem cell self-renewal and somatic differentiation. Here, we report that the human ESCC miRNA miR-372 and let-7 act antagonistically in germline differentiation from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). hESC and iPSC-derived primordial germ cell-like cells (PGCLCs) expressed high levels of miR-372 and conversely, somatic cells expressed high levels of let-7. Manipulation of miRNA levels by introduction of miRNA mimics or knockdown with miRNA sponges demonstrated that miR-372 promotes whereas let-7 antagonizes PGCLC differentiation. Knockdown of the individual miR-372 targets SMARCC1, MECP2, CDKN1, RBL2, RHOC, and TGFBR2 increased PGCLC production, whereas knockdown of the let-7 targets CMYC and NMYC suppressed PGCLC differentiation. These findings uncover a miR-372/let-7 axis regulating human primordial germ cell (PGC) specification. Stem Cells 2016;34:1985-1991.
Project description:The expansion of primordial germ cells (PGCs), the precursors for the oocytes and spermatozoa, is a key challenge in reproductive biology/medicine. Using a chemical screening exploiting PGC-like cells (PGCLCs) induced from mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs), we here identify key signaling pathways critical for PGCLC proliferation. We show that the combinatorial application of Forskolin and Rolipram, which stimulate cAMP signaling via different mechanisms, expands PGCLCs up to ~50-fold in culture. The expanded PGCLCs maintain robust capacity for spermatogenesis, rescuing the fertility of infertile mice. Strikingly, during expansion, PGCLCs comprehensively erase their DNA methylome, including parental imprints, in a manner that precisely recapitulates genome-wide DNA demethylation in gonadal germ cells, while essentially maintaining their identity as sexually uncommitted PGCs, apparently through appropriate histone modifications. By establishing a paradigm for PGCLC expansion, our system reconstitutes the epigenetic "blank slate" of the germ line, an immediate precursory state for sexually dimorphic differentiation.
Project description:Primordial germ cells (PGCs) are founder cells of the germ cell lineage, and can be differentiated from stem cells in an induced system in vitro. However, the induction conditions need to be optimized in order to improve the differentiation efficiency. Activin A (ActA) is a member of the TGF-? super family and plays an important role in oogenesis and folliculogenesis. In the present study, we found that ActA promoted PGC-like cells (PGCLCs) formation from mouse skin-derived stem cells (SDSCs) in both embryoid body-like structure (EBLS) differentiation and the co-culture stage in a dose dependent manner. ActA treatment (100 ng/ml) during EBLS differentiation stage and further co-cultured for 6 days without ActA significantly increased PGCLCs from 53.2% to 82.8%, and as well as EBLS differentiation without ActA followed by co-cultured with 100 ng/ml ActA for 4 to 12 days with the percentage of PGCLCs increasing markedly in vitro. Moreover, mice treated with ActA at 100 ng/kg body weight from embryonic day (E) 5.5-12.5 led to more PGCs formation. However, the stimulating effects of ActA were interrupted by Smad3 RNAi, and in an in vitro cultured Smad3(-/-) mouse skin cells scenario. SMAD3 is thus likely a key effecter molecule in the ActA signaling pathway. In addition, we found that the expression of some epiblast cell markers, Fgf5, Dnmt3a, Dnmt3b and Wnt3, was increased in EBLSs cultured for 4 days or PGCLCs co-cultured for 12 days with ActA treatment. Interestingly, at 16 days of differentiation, the percentage of PGCLCs was decreased in the presence of ActA, but the expression of meiosis-relative genes, such as Stra8, Dmc1, Sycp3 and Sycp1, was increased. In conclusion, our data here demonstrated that ActA can promote PGCLC formation from SDSCs in vitro, at early stages of differentiation, and affect meiotic initiation of PGCLCs in later stages.
Project description:The germ cell lineage ensures the continuity of life through the generation of male and female gametes, which unite to form a totipotent zygote. We have established a culture system that recapitulates the mouse germ-cell specification pathway: Using cytokines, embryonic stem cells (ESCs)/induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are induced into epiblast-like cells (EpiLCs) and then into primordial germ cell-like cells (PGCLCs) with capacity both for spermatogenesis and oogenesis, creating an opportunity for understanding and regulating mammalian germ cell development in both sexes in vitro. Here we show that, without cytokines, simultaneous over-expression of three transcription factors (TFs), Blimp1 (also known as Prdm1), Prdm14 and Tfap2c (also known as AP2γ), directs EpiLCs, but not ESCs, swiftly and highly efficiently into a PGC state with endogenous transcription circuitry. The induction of the PGC state on EpiLCs minimally requires Prdm14 but not Blimp1 or Tfap2c. The TF-induced PGC state reconstitutes key transcriptome and epigenetic reprogramming in PGCs, but bypasses a mesodermal program that accompanies PGC specification in vivo and in vitro by cytokines including BMP4. Importantly, the TF-induced PGC-like cells robustly contribute to spermatogenesis and fertile offspring. Our findings provide not only a novel insight into the transcriptional logic that creates a germ cell state, but also a foundation for the TF-based reconstitution and regulation of mammalian gametogenesis. Aim of this analysis is characterization of transcription factor-induced primordial germ cells (TF-PGCLCs) compared with cytokine-induced primordial germ cells (Ck-PGCLCs) (Hayashi et al., 2011, Cell), epiblast-like cells (EpiLCs) (Hayashi et al., 2011, Cell), and embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and identification of genes differentially expressed among them. TF-PGCLCs induced by multiple combinations of TFs (Blimp1 (B), Prdm14 (P14), and Tfap2c (A) (BP14A), BP14, P14A, P14) on day 2 and 4 (for BP14A cells) of the induction were also compared. Parental clone without exogenous TFs cultured with doxycycline, are also included as a negative control. Ck-PGCLCs day 2 and day 4 samples, which are previously unreported, EpiLCs and ESCs used in this study were also included. Overexpression of exogenous three TFs in ESCs yields stella-ECFP (SC) positive cells, which were sorted and included in the analysis. cDNA samples, prepared from approximately 20,000 cells, were amplified with a quantitative global PCR method (Kurimoto et al., 2006, Nucleic Acids Research). Two biological duplicates for each cell type were analyzed. Samples from GSE30056 were also included and reanalysed (GSM1070855-GSM1070864).
Project description:Reconstitution of female germ-cell development in vitro is a key challenge in reproductive biology and medicine. We show here that female (XX) embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) in mice are induced into primordial germ cell-like cells (PGCLCs), which, when aggregated with female gonadal somatic cells as reconstituted ovaries, develop pre-meiotic germ cell characteristics, including X-reactivation, imprint erasure, and cyst formation. Upon transplantation under ovarian bursa, PGCLCs in the reconstituted ovaries mature into germinal vesicle-stage oocytes, which, through in vitro maturation and fertilization, contribute to fertile offspring. Our culture system serves as a robust foundation for the investigation of key properties of female germ cells, including the acquisition of totipotency, and for the reconstitution of whole female germ-cell development in vitro. We performed expression analysis of female PGC-like cells [PGCLCs; day 3 (d3), day 6 (d6), and day 3 followed by day 6 in aggregation with female embryonic day (E) 12.5 gonadal somatic cells (d3ag6)] in comparison to in vivo embryonic PGCs (E12.5 female PGCs and E9.5 PGCs) and male d6 PGCLCs. PGCLCs were marked with fluorescence of Blimp1-mVenus, stella-ECFP transgenic reporters (BVSC). PGCs were marked with fluorescence of the stella-EGFP transgenic reporter.
Project description:The generation of properly functioning gametes in vitro, a key goal in developmental/reproductive biology, requires multi-step reconstitutions of complex germ cell development. Based on the logic of primordial germ cell (PGC)-specification, we demonstrate here the generation of PGC-like cells (PGCLCs) in mice with robust capacity for spermatogenesis from embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) through epiblast-like cells (EpiLCs), a cellular state highly similar to pre-gastrulating epiblasts, but distinct from epiblast stem cells (EpiSCs). The global transcription profiles, epigenetic reprogramming, and cellular dynamics during PGCLC induction from EpiLCs are a meticulous capture of those associated with PGC specification from the epiblasts. Furthermore, we identify Integrin-beta 3 and SSEA1 as markers that purify PGCLCs with spermatogenic capacity free from tumorigenic undifferentiated cells. With the reconstitution of PGC specification pathway from the naive inner cell mass state, our study defines a paradigm for the essential step of in vitro gametogenesis. We performed this analysis to reveal the characters of the cells that we created in this study, epiblast-like cells (EpiLCs) and primordial germ cells-like cells (PGCLCs). Because EpiLCs were induced from embryonic stem cells (ESCs), and equivalent to pre-gastrulating epiblast (embryonic day [E] 5.5-6.0) in vivo (embryo), ESCs and epiblast were included in this analysis. Epiblast stem cells (EpiSCs) are a culture cell type derived from epiblast, and were also included. PGCLCs were supposed to be equivalent to E9.5 PGCs based on reporter fluorescent transgene expressions and epigenetic properties, and therefore E9.5 PGCs were also inckuded in this analysis. Because epiblast and E9.5 PGCs are of a small number of cells in embryos (a few hundred to thousand cells), cDNAs were amplified with a quantitative global PCR method (Kurimoto et al., 2006, Nucleic Acids Research) for microarray analyses. We took two biological replicate for each cell type.