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Cell Stem Cell. 2013 Jun 6;12(6):774-86. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2013.04.001.

ROS are required for mouse spermatogonial stem cell self-renewal.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan.


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation is implicated in stem cell self-renewal in several tissues but is thought to be detrimental for spermatogenesis as well as spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs). Using cultured SSCs, we show that ROS are generated via the AKT and MEK signaling pathways under conditions where the growth factors glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor and fibroblast growth factor 2 drive SSC self-renewal and, instead, stimulate self-renewal at physiological levels. SSCs depleted of ROS stopped proliferating, but they showed enhanced self-renewal when ROS levels were increased by the addition of hydrogen peroxide, which induced the phosphorylation of stress kinases p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and c-jun N-terminal kinase (JNK). Moreover, ROS depletion in vivo decreased SSC number in the testis, and NADPH oxidase 1 (Nox1)-deficient SSCs exhibited reduced self-renewal division upon serial transplantation. These results suggest that ROS generated by Nox1 play critical roles in SSC self-renewal via the activation of the p38 MAPK and JNK pathways.

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