Spermatogenesis originates from a small population of spermatogonial stem cells. These cells are believed to divide infinitely and support spermatogenesis throughout life in the male. In this investigation, we examined the possibility of deriving transgenic offspring from single spermatogonial stem cells. Spermatogonial stem cells were transfected in vitro with a plasmid vector containing a drug resistant gene. Stably transfected stem cell clones were isolated by in vitro drug selection; these clones were expanded and used to produce transgenic progeny following spermatogonial transplantation into infertile recipients. An average of 49% of the offspring carried the transgene, and the recipient mice continued to produce monoclonal transgenic progeny a year after transplantation. Thus, a somatic cell-based genetic approach can be used to modify and select clones of spermatogonial stem cells in a manner similar to embryonic stem cells. The feasibility of genetic selection using postnatal spermatogonial stem cells demonstrates their extensive proliferative potential and provides the opportunity to develop new methods for generating stable animal transgenics or for germline gene therapy.
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