Animal cloning by nuclear transfer has been successful in several species and was expected to become an alternative reproductive technique. Among the problems associated with this cloning technique, however, are its low success rate and high mortality of cloned animals even if they develop to term. Nuclear transfer has thus come to be considered too difficult to apply as a reproductive technique. The transplantation of male germ cells or pieces of testicular tissue has enabled the induction of spermatogenesis from fetal or postnatal male mice. In the present study, we examined whether functional male gametes could be obtained by the transplantation of pieces of testicular tissue from cloned mice that died immediately after birth with typical aberrant phenotypes, such as large offspring syndrome. Donor testicular tissues were retrieved from cloned mice that died postnatally and were transplanted into the testes of recipient nude mice. Two to three months after transplantation, the grafted donor testicular tissue had grown in the host testis, and histological analysis showed that spermatogenesis occurred within the graft. Intracytoplasmic sperm injection demonstrated that the testicular sperm generated in the grafted donor tissue were able to support full-term development of progeny. These results clearly showed that functional spermatogenesis could be induced by transplanting testicular tissue from cloned mice that died postnatally into recipient mice. The strategy presented here will be applicable to cloned animals of other species, because the xenografting of testicular tissue into mice has been demonstrated previously to be possible.
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