High frequency production of zebrafish germline chimeras was achieved by transplanting ovarian germ cells into sterile Danio hybrid recipients. Ovarian germ cells were obtained from 3-mo-old adult Tg(vasa:DsRed2-vasa);Tg(bactin:EGFP) double transgenic zebrafish by discontinuous Percoll gradient centrifugation. An average of 755 ± 108 DsRed-positive germ cells was recovered from each female. For transplantations, a total of approximately 620 ± 242 EGFP-positive cells of which 12 ± 4.7 were DsRed-positive germ cells were introduced into the abdominal cavity under the swim bladder of 2-wk-old sterile hybrid larvae. Six weeks after transplantation, a total of 10 recipients, obtained from 2 different transplantations, were examined, and 2 individuals (20%) were identified that possessed a large number of DsRed- and EGFP-positive cells in the gonadal region. The transplanted ovarian germ cells successfully colonized the gonads and differentiated into sperm in the male hybrid recipients. Of 67 adult recipients, 12 (18%) male chimeric fish reproduced and generated normal offspring when paired with wild-type zebrafish females. The fertilization efficiency ranged from 23% to 56%. Although the fertile male chimeras were generated by transplantation of ovarian germ cells, the F1 generation produced by the male chimeras contained both male and female progeny, indicating that male sex determination in zebrafish is not controlled by sex chromosome heterogamy. Our findings indicate that a population of ovarian germ cells that are present in the ovary of adult zebrafish can function as germline stem cells, able to proliferate and differentiate into testicular germ cells and functional sperm in male recipients. The high frequency of germline chimera formation achieved with the ovarian germ cells and the convenience of identifying the chimeras in the sterile host background should make this transplantation system useful for performing genetic manipulations in zebrafish.
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Vol. 84 • No. 6