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Chen Z.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Li Z.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Li Z.,Shanghai Key Laboratory of Assisted Reproduction and Reproductive Genetics | Li Z.,Shanghai Key Laboratory of Reproductive Medicine | And 3 more authors.
Asian Journal of Andrology | Year: 2015

Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs), also known as male germline stem cells, are a small subpopulation of type A spermatogonia with the potential of self-renewal to maintain stem cell pool and differentiation into spermatids in mammalian testis. SSCs are previously regarded as the unipotent stem cells since they can only give rise to sperm within the seminiferous tubules. However, this concept has recently been challenged because numerous studies have demonstrated that SSCs cultured with growth factors can acquire pluripotency to become embryonic stem-like cells. The in vivo and in vitro studies from peers and us have clearly revealed that SSCs can directly transdifferentiate into morphologic, phenotypic, and functional cells of other lineages. Direct conversion to the cells of other tissues has important significance for regenerative medicine. SSCs from azoospermia patients could be induced to differentiate into spermatids with fertilization and developmental potentials. As such, SSCs could have significant applications in both reproductive and regenerative medicine due to their unique and great potentials. In this review, we address the important plasticity of SSCs, with focuses on their self-renewal, differentiation, dedifferentiation, transdifferentiation, and translational medicine studies. © 2015 AJA, SIMM & SJTU. All rights reserved 1008-682X.


Yao C.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Sun M.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Yuan Q.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Niu M.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | And 9 more authors.
Oncotarget | Year: 2016

Sertoli cells play critical roles in regulating spermatogenesis and they can be reprogrammed to the cells of other lineages, highlighting that they have significant applications in reproductive and regenerative medicine. The fate determinations of Sertoli cells are regulated precisely by epigenetic factors. However, the expression, roles, and targets of microRNA (miRNA) in human Sertoli cells remain unknown. Here we have for the first time revealed that 174 miRNAs were distinctly expressed in human Sertoli cells between Sertoli-cell-only syndrome (SCOS) patients and obstructive azoospermia (OA) patients with normal spermatogenesis using miRNA microarrays and real time PCR, suggesting that these miRNAs may be associated with the pathogenesis of SCOS. MiR-133b is upregulated in Sertoli cells of SCOS patients compared to OA patients. Proliferation assays with miRNA mimics and inhibitors showed that miR-133b enhanced the proliferation of human Sertoli cells. Moreover, we demonstrated that GLI3 was a direct target of miR-133b and the expression of Cyclin B1 and Cyclin D1 was enhanced by miR-133b mimics but decreased by its inhibitors. Gene silencing of GLI3 using RNA inference stimulated the growth of human Sertoli cells. Collectively, miR-133b promoted the proliferation of human Sertoli cells by targeting GLI3. This study thus sheds novel insights into epigenetic regulation of human Sertoli cells and the etiology of azoospermia and offers new targets for treating male infertility.


Chen Z.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Sun M.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Yuan Q.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Niu M.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | And 9 more authors.
Oncotarget | Year: 2016

To generate functional human hepatocytes from stem cells and/or extrahepatic tissues could provide an important source of cells for treating liver diseases. Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) have an unlimited plasticity since they can dedifferentiate and transdifferentiate to other cell lineages. However, generation of mature and functional hepatocytes from human SSCs has not yet been achieved. Here we have for the first time reported direct transdifferentiation of human SSCs to mature and functional hepatocytes by three-step induction using the defined condition medium. Human SSCs were first transdifferentiated to hepatic stem cells, as evidenced by their morphology and biopotential nature of co-expressing hepatocyte and cholangiocyte markers but not hallmarks for embryonic stem cells. Hepatic stem cells were further induced to differentiate into mature hepatocytes identified by their morphological traits and strong expression of CK8, CK18, ALB, AAT, TF, TAT, and cytochrome enzymes rather than CK7 or CK19. Significantly, mature hepatocytes derived from human SSCs assumed functional attributes of human hepatocytes, because they could produce albumin, remove ammonia, and uptake and release indocyanine green. Moreover, expression of β-CATENIN, HNF4A, FOXA1 and GATA4 was upregulated during the transdifferentiation of human SSCs to mature hepatocytes. Collectively, human SSCs could directly transdifferentiate to mature and functional hepatocytes. This study could offer an invaluable source of human hepatocytes for curing liver disorders and drug toxicology screening and provide novel insights into mechanisms underlying human liver regeneration.


Wang H.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Wen L.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Yuan Q.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Sun M.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | And 4 more authors.
Reproduction | Year: 2016

Within the seminiferous tubules there are two major cell types, namely male germ cells and Sertoli cells. Recent studies have demonstrated that male germ cells and Sertoli cells can have significant applications in treating male infertility and other diseases. However, primary male germ cells are hard to proliferate in vitro and the number of spermatogonial stem cells is scarce. Therefore, methods that promote the expansion of these cell populations are essential for their use from the bench to the bed side. Notably, a number of cell lines for rodent spermatogonia, spermatocytes and Sertoli cells have been developed, and significantly we have successfully established a human spermatogonial stem cell line with an unlimited proliferation potential and no tumor formation. This newly developed cell line could provide an abundant source of cells for uncovering molecular mechanisms underlying human spermatogenesis and for their utilization in the field of reproductive and regenerative medicine. In this review, we discuss the methods for establishing spermatogonial, spermatocyte and Sertoli cell lines using various kinds of approaches, including spontaneity, transgenic animals with oncogenes, simian virus 40 (SV40) large T antigen, the gene coding for a temperature-sensitive mutant of p53, telomerase reverse gene (Tert), and the specific promoter-based selection strategy. We further highlight the essential applications of these cell lines in basic research and translation medicine. © 2016 Society for Reproduction and Fertility.


Hai Y.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Hou J.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Liu Y.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Yang H.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | And 4 more authors.
Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology | Year: 2014

Spermatogenesis is a complex process by which spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) self-renew and differentiate into spermatozoa under the elaborate coordination of testicular microenvironment, namely, niche. Sertoli cells, which locate around male germ cells, are the most critical component of the niche. Significant progress has recently been made by peers and us on uncovering the effects of Sertoli cells on regulating fate determinations of SSCs. Here we addressed the roles and regulation of Sertoli cells in normal and abnormal spermatogenesis. Specifically, we summarized the biological characteristics of Sertoli cells, and we emphasized the roles of Sertoli cells in mediating the self-renewal, differentiation, apoptosis, de-differentiation, and trans-differentiation of SSCs. The association between abnormal function of Sertoli cells and impaired spermatogenesis was discussed. Finally, we highlighted several issues to be addressed for further investigation on the effects and mechanisms of Sertoli cells in spermatogenesis. Since Sertoli cells are the key supportive cells for SSCs and they are very receptive to modification, a better understanding of the roles and regulation of Sertoli cells in SSC biology and spermatogenesis would make it feasible to identify novel targets for gene therapy of male infertility as well as seek more efficient and safer strategies for male contraception. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


Yao C.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Liu Y.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Sun M.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Niu M.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | And 8 more authors.
Reproduction | Year: 2015

Spermatogenesis is composed of three distinctive phases, which include self-renewal of spermatogonia via mitosis, spermatocytes undergoing meiosis I/II and post-meiotic development of haploid spermatids via spermiogenesis. Spermatogenesis also involves condensation of chromatin in the spermatid head before transformation of spermatids to spermatozoa. Epigenetic regulation refers to changes of heritably cellular and physiological traits not caused by modifications in the DNA sequences of the chromatin such as mutations. Major advances have been made in the epigenetic regulation of spermatogenesis. In this review, we address the roles and mechanisms of epigenetic regulators, with a focus on the role of microRNAs and DNA methylation during mitosis, meiosis and spermiogenesis.We also highlight issues that deserve attention for further investigation on the epigenetic regulation of spermatogenesis. More importantly, a thorough understanding of the epigenetic regulation in spermatogenesis will provide insightful information into the etiology of some unexplained infertility, offering new approaches for the treatment of male infertility.


Guo Y.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Liu L.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Sun M.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Hai Y.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | And 4 more authors.
Experimental Biology and Medicine | Year: 2015

Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) can differentiate into spermatids, reflecting that they could be used in reproductive medicine for treating male infertility. SSCs are able to become embryonic stem-like cells with the potentials of differentiating into numerous cell types of the three germ layers and they can transdifferentiate to mature and functional cells of other lineages, highlighting significant applications of human SSCs for treating human diseases. However, human SSCs are very rare and a long-term culture system of human SSCs has not yet established. This aim of study was to isolate, identify and culture human SSCs for a long period. We isolated GPR125-positive spermatogonia with high purity and viability from adult human testicular tissues utilizing the two-step enzymatic digestion and magnetic-activated cell sorting with antibody against GPR125. These freshly isolated cells expressed a number of markers for SSCs, including GPR125, PLZF, GFRA1, RET, THY1, UCHL1 and MAGEA4, but not the hallmarks for spermatocytes and spermatozoa, e.g. SYCP1, SYCP3, PRM1, and TNP1. The isolated human SSCs could be cultured for two months with a significant increase of cell number with the defined medium containing growth factors and hydrogel. Notably, the expression of numerous SSC markers was maintained during the cultivation of human SSCs. Furthermore, SMAD3 and AKT phosphorylation was enhanced during the culture of human SSCs. Collectively, these results suggest that human SSCs can be cultivated for a long period and expanded whilst retaining an undifferentiated status via the activation of SMAD3 and AKT pathways. This study could provide sufficient cells of SSCs for their basic research and clinic applications in reproductive and regenerative medicine. © 2015, © 2015 by the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine.


Yang S.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Ping P.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Ma M.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Li P.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | And 11 more authors.
Stem Cell Reports | Year: 2014

Generation of functional spermatids from azoospermia patients is of unusual significance in the treatment of male infertility. Here, we report an efficient approach to obtain human functional spermatids from cryptorchid patients. Spermatogonia remained whereas meiotic germ cells were rare in cryptorchid patients. Expression of numerous markers for meiotic and postmeiotic male germ cells was enhanced in human spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) of cryptorchidism patients by retinoic acid (RA) and stem cell factor (SCF) treatment. Meiotic spreads and DNA content assays revealed that RA and SCF induced a remarkable increase of SCP3-, MLH1-, and CRESTpositive cells and haploid cells. Single-cell RNA sequencing analysis reflected distinct global gene profiles in embryos derived from round spermatids and nuclei of somatic cells. Significantly, haploid spermatids generated from human SSCs of cryptorchid patients possessed fertilization and development capacity. This study thus provides an invaluable source of autologous male gametes for treating male infertility in azoospermia patients. © 2014 The Authors.


Shen R.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Jia R.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Liu W.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Lin Q.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | And 4 more authors.
Current Pharmaceutical Design | Year: 2015

Stem cells, by definition, are the primitive cells that have the potential of both self-renewal and differentiation into a number of mature and functional cells, and thus they have great applications in cell therapy and tissue engineering for regenerative medicine. Bone morphogenetic protein 6 (BMP6) belongs to transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) superfamily. The fate determinations of stem cells require complex regulatory networks that involve BMP6 signaling pathway. Recent studies have demonstrated that BMP6 plays crucial roles in controlling the self-renewal and differentiation of stem cells. In this review, we address the expression, function and regulation of BMP6 in various kinds of stem cells, with focus on mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), germline stem cells (GSCs), hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), and neural stem cells (NSCs). Notably, there are distinct effects of BMP6 on promoting self-renewal and differentiation of these stem cells. We also discuss the involement of BMP6 in diseases, including leukemia, astrocytic glioma, and Alzheimer's disease, and the therapy of these diseases via gene targeting. We further highlight certain issues for further investigation on the regulation and function of BMP6 in stem cells. Significantly, a thorough understanding of BMP6 regulation on a variety of adult stem cells could make them feasible for applications in both regenerative and reproductive medicine, and it would shed novel insights into the etiology of the diseases and offer new targets for drug design to treat these disorders. © 2015 Bentham Science Publishers.


Hai Y.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Sun M.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Niu M.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | Yuan Q.,Shanghai JiaoTong University | And 4 more authors.
Discovery Medicine | Year: 2015

Sertoli cell plays critical roles in regulating testis development and spermatogenesis. Any change in the number or biological functions of Sertoli cells can affect the normal formation of spermatozoa. However, the roles and molecular mechanisms of factors in controlling the fate determinations of human Sertoli cells and underlying male infertility remain unknown. Here we have for the first time explored the function and signaling pathway of BMP4 in regulating adult human Sertoli cells and their association with non-obstructive azoospermia (NOA) patients. Immunocytochemistry and immunohistochemistry revealed that BMP4 and its multiple receptors were present in human Sertoli cells. Cell proliferation and BrdU incorporation assays showed that BMP4 promoted DNA synthesis and proliferation of Sertoli cells. In contrast, BMP4 antagonist noggin and BMP4 knockdown reduced the division of Sertoli cells. Moreover, BMP4 knockdown inhibited the synthesis of FGF2, SCF, zonula occludens 1, and claudin 11 but enhanced p27kip1 transcription. BMP4 activated Smad1/5 phosphorylation and upregulated ID2 and ID3 transcription, whereas noggin counteracted these increases. Significantly, tissue arrays disclosed that overexpression of BMP4 may be associated with Sertoli cell-only syndrome and maturation arrest in spermatogonia or spermatocytes. Collectively, BMP4 was identified as the first autocrine factor that regulates the proliferation and protein synthesis of human Sertoli cells via Smad1/5 and ID2/3 pathway and its abnormality is associated with human non-obstructive azoospermia patients. This study thus provides novel insights into molecular mechanism underlying adult human Sertoli cell growth and offers new targets for gene therapy of male infertility. © 2015, Discovery Medicine.

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