A technique for rescuing and propagating endangered species involves implanting germ line stem cells into surrogates of a host species whose primordial germ cells (PGCs) have been destroyed. We induced sterilization in sterlet (Acipenser ruthenus) embryos by means of ultraviolet (UV) irradiation at the vegetal pole, the source of early-stage PGCs of sturgeon eggs. The optimal cell stage and length of UV irradiation for the effective repression of the developing PGCs were determined by exposing embryos at the one- to four-cell stage to different doses of irradiation at a wavelength of 254 nm (the optimal absorbance spectrum for germplasm destruction). The vegetal pole region of the embryos was labeled immediately upon irradiation with GFP bucky ball mRNA to monitor the amount of germ plasm and FITC-dextran (M.W. 500,000) to obtain the number of PGCs in the embryos. The size of the germ plasm and number of surrounding mitochondria in the irradiated embryos and controls were observed using transmission electron microscopy, which revealed a drastic reduction in both on the surface of the vegetal pole in the treated embryos. Furthermore, the reduction in the number of PGCs was proportional to the dose of UV irradiation. Under the conditions tested, optimum irradiation for PGCs removal was seen at 360 mJ/cm2 at the one-cell stage. Although some PGCs were observed after the UV irradiation, they significantly reduced in number as the embryos grew. We conclude that UV irradiation is a useful and efficient technique to induce sterility in surrogate sturgeons.
Sturgeon primordial germ cells can be terminated instantly by UV irradiation (254 nm) at the one-cell stage.