In mice, transplantation of spermatogonial stem cells from a fertile male to the seminiferous tubules of an infertile recipient male results in progeny with donor-derived haplotype. Attempts to extend this approach by transplanting human testis cells to mice have led to conflicting claims that no donor germ cells persisted or that human spermatozoa were produced in the recipient. To examine this issue we used the baboon, a primate in which testis cell populations of several ages could be obtained for transplantation, and demonstrate that donor spermatogonial stem cells readily establish germ cell colonies in recipient mice, which exist for periods of at least 6 mo. However, differentiation of germ cells toward the lumen of the tubule and production of spermatozoa did not occur. The presence of baboon spermatogonial stem cells and undifferentiated spermatogonia in mouse seminiferous tubules for long periods after transplantation indicates that antigens, growth factors, and signaling molecules that are necessary for interaction of these cells and the testis environment have been preserved for 100 million years of evolutionary separation. Because germ cell differentiation and spermatogenesis did not occur, the molecules necessary for this process appear to have undergone greater divergence between baboon and mouse.
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