Research ArticleCELL BIOLOGY

Flexible adaptation of male germ cells from female iPSCs of endangered Tokudaia osimensis

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Science Advances  12 May 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 5, e1602179
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1602179


In mammals, the Y chromosome strictly influences the maintenance of male germ cells. Almost all mammalian species require genetic contributors to generate testes. An endangered species, Tokudaia osimensis, has a unique sex chromosome composition XO/XO, and genetic differences between males and females have not been confirmed. Although a distinctive sex-determining mechanism may exist in T. osimensis, it has been difficult to examine thoroughly in this rare animal species. To elucidate the discriminative sex-determining mechanism in T. osimensis and to find a strategy to prevent its possible extinction, we have established induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and derived interspecific chimeras using mice as the hosts and recipients. Generated iPSCs are considered to be in the so-called “true naïve” state, and T. osimensis iPSCs may contribute as interspecific chimeras to several different tissues and cells in live animals. Surprisingly, female T. osimensis iPSCs not only contributed to the female germ line in the interspecific mouse ovary but also differentiated into spermatocytes and spermatids that survived in the adult interspecific mouse testes. Thus, T. osimensis cells have high sexual plasticity through which female somatic cells can be converted to male germline cells. These findings suggest flexibility in T. osimensis cells, which can adapt their germ cell sex to the gonadal niche. The probable reduction of the extinction risk of an endangered species through the use of iPSCs is indicated by this study.

  • induced pluripotent stem cells
  • sex determination
  • germ cells
  • chimera
  • Endangered species
  • Tokudaia osimensis

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