Use of Human Amniotic Epithelial Cells as a Feeder Layer to Support Undifferentiated Growth of Mouse Spermatogonial Stem Cells Via Epigenetic Regulation of the Nanog and Oct-4 Promoters


Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) are defined by unique properties like other stem cells. However, there are two major challenges: long-term cultivation of normal SSCs into stable cell lines and maintaining the SSCs as undifferentiated and capable of self-renewal. Here, we compared different culture methods for mouse SSCs isolated and cultured from testicular tissue. We found that human amniotic epithelial cells (hAECs) can behave as feeder cells, allowing mouse SSCs to maintain a high level of alkaline phosphatase (AP) activity when cultured long-term. Also, we observed that expression of Nanog, Oct-4 and other important stem cells markers were higher in mouse SSCs cultured on hAECs compared to those cultured on MEF or without any feeder cells. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the CpG islands of the Nanog and Oct-4 promoters were hypomethylated in cells cultured on hAECs. In addition, mouse SSCs cultured on hAECs exhibited higher levels of H3AC and H3K4Me3 in the Nanog and Oct-4 promoters than those cultured on MEF or without feeder cells. Taken together, these results suggest that the hAECinduced epigenetic modifications at the Nanog and Oct-4 locus could be a key mechanism for maintaining mouse SSCs in an undifferentiated state capable of self-renewal.


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Correspondence to Lihe Guo or Zhixue Liu.

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Liu, T., Huang, Y., Huang, Q. et al. Use of Human Amniotic Epithelial Cells as a Feeder Layer to Support Undifferentiated Growth of Mouse Spermatogonial Stem Cells Via Epigenetic Regulation of the Nanog and Oct-4 Promoters. BIOLOGIA FUTURA 63, 167–179 (2012).

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  • Human amnion epithelial cells
  • mouse spermatogonial stem cells
  • undifferentiated
  • DNA methylation
  • histone H3K4 trimethylation