Research Article

A Vasculature-Associated Niche for Undifferentiated Spermatogonia in the Mouse Testis

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Science  21 Sep 2007:
Vol. 317, Issue 5845, pp. 1722-1726
DOI: 10.1126/science.1144885

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Mammalian spermatogenesis produces numerous sperm for a long period based on a highly potent stem cell system, which relies on a special microenvironment, or niche, that has not yet been identified. In this study, using time-lapse imaging of green fluorescent protein–labeled undifferentiated spermatogonia (Aundiff) and three-dimensional reconstitution, we revealed a biased localization of Aundiff to the vascular network and accompanying Leydig and other interstitial cells, in intact testes. Differentiating spermatogonia left these niche regions and dispersed throughout the basal compartment of the seminiferous epithelium. Moreover, rearrangement of Aundiff accompanied the vasculature alteration. We propose that the mammalian germline niche is established as a consequence of vasculature pattern formation. This is different from what is observed in Drosophila or Caenorhabditis elegans, which display developmentally specified niche structures within polarized gonads.

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