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Stem cells toward sperm cells and back again

ft, stem cells reappeared once the signal was turned back on," says Matunis. "So, the stem cells had to be coming from some other cell type within the testis."

These testes looked different, too, she says. Ones that had regained stem cells now lacked spermatogonia, and the raspberry-like cluster of stem cells essentially touched the spermatocytes in the researchers' microscopic pictures.

However, after four days of recovery, spermatogonia repopulated the real estate between the stem cells and the spermatocytes, indicating the new stem cells worked. In flies that had only spermatocytes left after life at 29 degrees, no stem cells returned, the researchers report.

Because these observations suggested that spermatogonia might be returning to their stem cell roots, Brawley labeled some of them with fluorescent markers and exposed the flies to the warmer temperature for four days. Sure enough, only those cells that retained spermatogonia regained stem cells, and some of the new stem cells were fluorescent, she says.

Now the scientists will examine whether this reversal, called "dedifferentiation," happens naturally in the flies, and whether spermatogonia retrace the path taken by stem cells -- a true reversal -- or whether they use different signals, proteins and processes to revert to stem cells.


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Contact: Joanna Downer
jdowner1@jhmi.edu
410-614-5105
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
18-May-2004


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