Differentiation of female chicken primordial germ cells into spermatozoa in male gonads


*Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.


In avian species, the developmental fate of different-sex germ cells in the gonads is unclear. The present study attempted to confirm whether genetically female germ cells can differentiate into spermatozoa in male gonads using male germline chimeric chickens produced by the transfer of primordial germ cells (PGC), and employing molecular biological methods. As a result of Southern hybridization, specific sequences of the W chromosome (the female specific sex chromosome in birds) were detected in the genomic DNA extracted from one out of four male germline chimeric chickens. When two-color in situ hybridization was conducted on the spermatozoa of this germline chimera, 0.33% (average) of the nuclei of each semen sample showed the fluorescent signal indicating the presence of the W chromosome. The present study shows that female PGC can differentiate into spermatozoa in male gonads in the chicken. However, the ratio of produced W chromosome-bearing (W-bearing) spermatozoa fell substantially below expectations. It is therefore concluded that most of the W-bearing PGC could not differentiate into spermatozoa because of restricted spermatogenesis.