Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Male Germ Cells Can Be Directly Converted Into Other Cell Types

Date:
July 30, 2009
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
Researchers have found a way to directly convert spermatogonial stem cells, the precursors of sperm cells, into tissues of the prostate, skin and uterus.

Researchers have found a way to directly convert spermatogonial stem cells, the precursors of sperm cells, into tissues of the prostate, skin and uterus. Their approach, described this month in the journal Stem Cells, may prove to be an effective alternative to the medical use of embryonic stem cells.

The hunt for alternatives to embryonic stem cells has led to some promising yet problematic approaches, some of which involve spermatagonial stem cells (SSCs). Researchers recently observed, for example, that SSCs grown in the laboratory will eventually give rise to a few cells that look and act like embryonic stem cells. This process can take months, however, and only a small percentage of the SSCs are converted into "embryonic stem-like" cells.

Other researchers have used viruses to insert genes into SSCs that will spur them to turn into ES-like cells. But this approach is problematic and the use of viruses to ferry in the needed genes has caused concern.

The new method, recently developed at the University of Illinois, takes advantage of the unusual interaction of two tissue types: the epithelium and the mesenchyme. The epithelium lines the cavities and surfaces of glands and many organs and secretes enzymes and other factors that are essential to the function of these tissues. The mesenchyme is the connective tissue in embryos. (In adults, the connective tissue is called stroma.)

In the 1950s, scientists discovered that the epithelium takes its developmental instructions from the mesenchyme. For example, when researchers put bladder epithelial cells on the mesenchyme of a prostate gland, the bladder cells were changed into prostatic epithelium. The prostatic mesenchyme had altered the fate of the bladder epithelium.

"The mesenchyme – it's the director; it's controlling the show," said University of Illinois veterinary biosciences professor Paul Cooke, who led the new study with postdoctoral researcher Liz Simon.

Cooke began the effort with what even he considered an unlikely proposition.

"Could we take spermatagonial stem cells and cause them to directly change into other cell types by putting them with various mesenchymes and growing them in the body?" he said. "I thought it was possible, but I didn't think it would work."

The experiment did work, however. When Simon placed SSCs from inbred mice on prostate mesenchyme and grafted the combination into living mice, the SSCs became prostatic epithelium. When combined with skin mesenchyme and grown in vivo, the SSCs became skin epithelum. The researchers were even able to convert SSCs into uterine epithelium by using uterine mesenchyme.

The newly formed tissues had all the physical characteristics of prostate, skin or uterus, and produced the telltale markers of those tissue types, Cooke said. They also stopped looking and behaving like SSCs.

To assure that their tests were not contaminated with epithelial cells from the source of the mesenchyme cells, the researchers repeated the experiments using a mouse whose cells contained a gene that fluoresces green under ultraviolet light. The SSCs were obtained from a green-fluorescing mouse, but the mesenchyme came from a non-fluorescing mouse. This enabled the researchers to trace the fate of the SSCs. If the newly formed prostatic epithelium glowed green even though the mesenchyme did not, for example, the researchers knew that the SSCs had been converted into prostatic epithelium.

Cooke hopes that a more streamlined approach can be developed that makes use of a man's own SSCs and stroma (the adult equivalent of the mesenchyme) to produce new skin cells or other tissues when needed – for example, to replace skin damaged in a burn. And his team is investigating the use of ovarian stem cells instead of SSCs to see if the same results can be obtained with ovarian tissue.

This work was supported by the Billie A. Field Endowment, the U. of I., and the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Simon et al. Direct Transdifferentiation of Stem/Progenitor Spermatogonia Into Reproductive and Nonreproductive Tissues of All Germ Layers. Stem Cells, 2009; 27 (7): 1666 DOI: 10.1002/stem.93

Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Male Germ Cells Can Be Directly Converted Into Other Cell Types." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090728145224.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2009, July 30). Male Germ Cells Can Be Directly Converted Into Other Cell Types. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090728145224.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Male Germ Cells Can Be Directly Converted Into Other Cell Types." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090728145224.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

AFP (Aug. 30, 2014) Authorities in Liberia try to stem the spread of the Ebola epidemic by raising awareness and setting up sanitation units for people to wash their hands. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California Passes 'yes-Means-Yes' Campus Sexual Assault Bill

California Passes 'yes-Means-Yes' Campus Sexual Assault Bill

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) California lawmakers pass a bill requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on campuses. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Drug Could Reduce Cardiovascular Deaths

New Drug Could Reduce Cardiovascular Deaths

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) The new drug from Novartis could reduce cardiovascular deaths by 20 percent compared to other similar drugs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins