I Falciatori, G Borsellino, N Haliassos, C Boitani, S Corallini, L Battistini, G Bernardi, M Stefanini, E Vicini
In mammals, spermatogenesis is maintained by spermatogonial stem cells (SSC). In their niche, SSC divide to self-maintain and to produce a transit-amplifying population that eventually enters the meiotic cycle to give rise to spermatozoa. The low number of SSC and the lack of specific markers hinder their isolation and enrichment. Stem cells in several adult tissues can be identified by using their verapamil-sensitive Hoechst dye-effluxing properties, which define the characteristic "side population" (SP). Here we show, by multicolor flow cytometric analysis, that immature mouse testis contains a "side-population" (T-SP), which is Sca-1pos, Ep-CAMpos, EE2 pos, alpha6-integrin pos, and alpha(v)-integrin neg. A 13-fold enrichment in SSC activity was observed when sorted T-SP cells from ROSA 26 mice were transplanted in busulfan-treated mouse testis. Whereas an incomplete range of spermatogenic stages was encountered two months after transplantation of unsorted testicular cells, the transplantation of T-SP cells generated all associations of mouse germ cells representing the full range of spermatogenic stages. These data suggest that Hoechst staining and cell sorting might provide a novel approach to SSC enrichment in mammals.