Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) provide the foundation of spermatogenesis, but studies are hampered by their scarcity. Although the cryptorchid operation is often used to obtain an enriched SSC population, making cryptorchid testes is time-consuming and the technique is not applicable to many animal species. In the present study, we screened for a new surface antigen on SSCs using germline stem (GS) cells (i.e., cultured SSCs). Germ cell transplantation experiments showed that SSCs express melanoma cell adhesion molecule (MCAM), which belongs to the immunoglobulin superfamily and mediates cation-independent adhesion. Although MCAM overexpression in GS cells did not influence SSC colony formation frequency or subsequent spermatogenesis after transplantation, MCAM knockdown in GS cells by short-interfering RNA treatment reduced colony numbers, suggesting that MCAM plays a role in sustaining SSC potential. Multiparameter selection of wild-type adult testis cells with a CD9 EPCAMlowMCAM KIT− phenotype resulted in a 561-fold enrichment of SSCs. Development of a new strategy for SSC enrichment from mature adult testes will facilitate analyses of SSCs in the normal testicular microenvironment.
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Vol. 87 • No. 6