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Human spermatogonial stem cells: a possible origin for spermatocytic seminoma

Authors

  • R. Waheeb,

    1. Department of Comparative Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA
    2. Department of Theriogenology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Alexandria, Egypt
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  • M.-C. Hofmann

    1. Department of Comparative Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA
    2. Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA
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Marie-Claude Hofmann, PhD, Department of Comparative Biosciences & Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2001 South Lincoln Avenue, Urbana, IL 61802, USA. E-mail: mhofmann@illinois.edu

Summary

In mammals, spermatogenesis is maintained throughout life by a small subpopulation of type A spermatogonia called spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs). In rodents, SSCs, or Asingle spermatogonia, form the self-renewing population. SSCs can also divide into Apaired (Apr) spermatogonia that are predestined to differentiate. Apaired spermatogonia produce chains of Aaligned (Aal) spermatogonia that divide to form A1 to A4, then type B spermatogonia. Type B spermatogonia will divide into primary spermatocytes that undergo meiosis. In human, there are only two different types of A spermatogonia, the Adark and Apale spermatogonia. The Adark spermatogonia are considered reserve stem cells, whereas the Apale spermatogonia are the self-renewing stem cells. There is only one generation of type B spermatogonia before differentiation into spermatocytes, which makes human spermatogenesis less efficient than in rodents. Although the biology of human SSCs is not well known, a panel of phenotypic markers has recently emerged that is remarkably similar to the list of markers expressed in mice. One such marker, the orphan receptor GPR125, is a plasma membrane protein that can be used to isolate human SSCs. Human SSCs proliferate in culture in response to growth factors such as GDNF, which is essential for SSC self-renewal in mice and triggers the same signalling pathways in both species. Therefore, despite differences in the spermatogonial differentiation scheme, both species use the same genes and proteins to maintain the pool of self-renewing SSCs within their niche. Spermatocytic seminomas are mainly found in the testes of older men, and they rarely metastasize. It is believed that these tumours originate from a post-natal germ cell. Because these lesions can express markers specific for meiotic prophase, they might originate from a primary spermatocyte. However, morphological appearance and overall immunohistochemical profile of these tumours indicate that the cell of origin could also be a spermatogonial stem cell.

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