The niche is considered to play an important role in stem cell biology. Sertoli cells are the only somatic cells in the seminiferous tubule that closely interact with germ cells to create a favorable environment for spermatogenesis. However, little is known about how Sertoli cells develop to form the male germ line niche. We report here that Sertoli cells recovered and dissociated from testes of donor male mice can be microinjected into recipient testes, form mature seminiferous tubule structures, and support spermatogenesis. Sertoli cells from perinatal donors had a dramatically greater capacity for generating seminiferous tubules than those from adult donors. Furthermore, transplantation of wild-type Sertoli cells into infertile Steel/Steeldickie testes created a permissive testicular microenvironment for generating spermatogenesis and spermatozoa. Thus, our results demonstrate that the male germ line stem cell niche can be transferred between animals. In addition, the technique provides a novel tool with which to analyze spermatogenesis and might provide a mechanism for correcting fertility in males suffering from supporting cell defects.
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