To study the mechanism of male germ cell differentiation, testicular germ cells carrying green fluorescent protein (GFP) as a transgene marker were transplanted into infertile mouse testis. Fluorescence-positive seminiferous tubule segments colonized with GFP-labeled donor germ cells were isolated and measured, and differentiated germ cells were analyzed in living squashed preparations. Cell associations in normal stages of the seminiferous epithelial cycle were also studied and used as a reference. Two months after transplantation, the average length of the colonies was 1.3 mm. The cell associations of transplanted colonies were consistent with those of normal stages of the cycle. However, stages of the cycle were not necessarily identical in different colonies. Three months after transplantation, the average length of transplanted colonies was 3.4 mm, and the cell association in every portion of a colony was similar to that of the corresponding stage of the cycle. Even in long fused colonies made by transplantation of a higher concentration of male germ cells, the cell association patterns in various regions of a single colony were similar and consistent with those of some of the normal stages of the cycle. Development of different stages inside the colony was observed by 6 mo after transplantation. These results indicate that the commencement of spermatogonial stem cell differentiation occurs randomly to develop different stages of the cycle in different colonies. Then, each colony shows one single stage of the cycle for a long time, even if it becomes a very large colony or fuses with other colonies. These observations indicate the existence of some kind of synchronization mechanism. By 6 mo, however, normal development of the stages of the cycle appeared in seminiferous tubules.
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