REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY: From Stem Cells to Sperm

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Science  10 Oct 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5643, pp. 201b
DOI: 10.1126/science.302.5643.201b

Embryonic stem (ES) cells can generate all lineages of the embryo in vivo. However it has not been clear whether germ cells can be derived from ES cells in vitro. Recently Hübner et al. were able to produce oocytes from mouse embryonic stem cells (Reports, 23 May, p.1251). Now Toyooka et al. have demonstrated that ES cells can also generate male germline cells in vitro. Cells were dissociated from embryoid bodies, grown with bone morphogenic protein 4-expressing cells, and then co-cultured with male gonadal cells before transplantation into a host testis capsule. The ES-derived cells differentiated into cells that expressed a characteristic marker of meiotic spermatogenic cells. When transplanted into reconstituted testicular tubules, the cells could develop into sperm. The cells produced probably represent primordial germ cells, which migrate into the fetal gonad where they will undergo meiosis and produce sperm. It will now be of interest to see if viable progeny can be produced using these cells. — BAP

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 100, 11457 (2003).

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