Spermatogonial stem cells are the only stem cells in the body that transmit genetic information to the next generation. These cells can be cultured for extended periods in the presence of serum and feeder cells. However, little is known about factors that regulate self-renewal division of spermatogonial stem cells. In this investigation we examined the possibility of establishing culture systems for spermatogonial stem cells that lack serum or a feeder cell layer. Spermatogonial stem cells could expand in serum-free conditions on mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs), or were successfully cultivated without feeder cells on a laminin-coated plate. However, they could not expand when both serum and feeder cells were absent. Although the cells cultured on laminin differed phenotypically from those on feeder cells, they grew exponentially for at least 6 mo, and produced normal, fertile progeny following transplantation into infertile mouse testis. This culture system will provide a new opportunity for understanding the regulatory mechanism that governs spermatogonial stem cells.
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