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Cell Stem Cell. 2008 Feb 7;2(2):170-82. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2007.10.023.

Stem cell defects in ATM-deficient undifferentiated spermatogonia through DNA damage-induced cell-cycle arrest.

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Department of Cell Differentiation, The Sakaguchi Laboratory of Developmental Biology, Keio University School of Medicine, 35 Shinano-machi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-8582, Japan.


Mammalian spermatogenesis is maintained by stem cell capacity within undifferentiated spermatogonial subpopulation. Here, using a combination of surface markers, we describe a purification method for undifferentiated spermatogonia. Flow cytometric analysis revealed that this population is composed of Plzf-positive cells and exhibits quiescence and the side population phenotype, fulfilling general stem cell criteria. We then applied this method to analyze undifferentiated spermatogonia and stem cell activity of Atm(-/-) mice. Atm(-/-) testis shows progressive depletion of undifferentiated spermatogonia accompanied by cell-cycle arrest. In Atm(-/-) undifferentiated spermatogonia, a self-renewal defect was observed in vitro and in vivo. Accumulation of DNA damage and activation of the p19(Arf)-p53-p21(Cip1/Waf1) pathway were observed in Atm(-/-) undifferentiated spermatogonia. Moreover, suppression of p21(Cip1/Waf1) in an Atm(-/-) background restored transplantation ability of undifferentiated spermatogonia, indicating that ATM plays an essential role in maintenance of undifferentiated spermatogonia and their stem cell capacity by suppressing DNA damage-induced cell-cycle arrest.

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