Scientific reports

The roles of testicular c-kit positive cells in de novo morphogenesis of testis.

PMID 25088917


C-kit positive (c-kit(+)) cells are usual tissue-specific stem cells. However, in postnatal testis, undifferentiated spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) are c-kit negative (c-kit(-)) and activation of c-kit represents the start of SSC differentiation, leaving an intriguing question whether other c-kit(+) cells exist and participate in the postnatal development of testis. To this end, a feasible system for testicular reconstitution, in which a specific type of cells can be manipulated, is needed. Here, we first establish de novo morphogenesis of testis by subcutaneous injection of testicular cells from neonatal testes into the backs of nude mice. We observe testicular tissue formation and spermatogenesis from all injected sites. Importantly, functional spermatids can be isolated from these testicular tissues. Using this system, we systemically analyze the roles of c-kit(+) cells in testicular reconstitution and identify a small population of cells (c-kit(+):CD140a(+):F4/80(+)), which express typical markers of macrophages, are critical for de novo morphogenesis of testis. Interestingly, we demonstrate that these cells are gradually replaced by peripheral blood cells of recipient mice during the morphogenesis of testis. Thus, we develop a system, which may mimic the complete developmental process of postnatal testis, for investigating the testicular development and spermatogenesis.