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Oocyte-like cells induced from mouse spermatogonial stem cells

Lu Wang1, Jinping Cao2, Ping Ji1, Di Zhang1, Lianghong Ma3, Martin Dym4, Zhuo Yu1* and Lixin Feng124*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Medical Sciences, Shanghai JiaoTong University School of Medicine, 280 Chongqing S. Road, Shanghai, 200025, China

2 Institute of Health Sciences, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China

3 Department of Urology, General Hospital of Ningxia Medical University, Yinchuan, Ningxia, China

4 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular & Cellular Biology, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC, 20057, USA

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Cell & Bioscience 2012, 2:27  doi:10.1186/2045-3701-2-27

Published: 6 August 2012



During normal development primordial germ cells (PGCs) derived from the epiblast are the precursors of spermatogonia and oogonia. In culture, PGCs can be induced to dedifferentiate to pluripotent embryonic germ (EG) cells in the presence of various growth factors. Several recent studies have now demonstrated that spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) can also revert back to pluripotency as embryonic stem (ES)-like cells under certain culture conditions. However, the potential dedifferentiation of SSCs into PGCs or the potential generation of oocytes from SSCs has not been demonstrated before.


We report that mouse male SSCs can be converted into oocyte-like cells in culture. These SSCs-derived oocytes (SSC-Oocs) were similar in size to normal mouse mature oocytes. They expressed oocyte-specific markers and gave rise to embryos through parthenogenesis. Interestingly, the Y- and X-linked testis-specific genes in these SSC-Oocs were significantly down-regulated or turned off, while oocyte-specific X-linked genes were activated. The gene expression profile appeared to switch to that of the oocyte across the X chromosome. Furthermore, these oocyte-like cells lost paternal imprinting but acquired maternal imprinting.


Our data demonstrate that SSCs might maintain the potential to be reprogrammed into oocytes with corresponding epigenetic reversals. This study provides not only further evidence for the remarkable plasticity of SSCs but also a potential system for dissecting molecular and epigenetic regulations in germ cell fate determination and imprinting establishment during gametogenesis.

Gametogenesis; Oocyte; PGC; Sex reversal; Spermatogonial stem cells