skip to content

The Gurdon Institute

cross section of mouse testis

By defining the dynamics of spermatogonial stem cells following transplantation into mouse testis, the Simons lab and collaborators in Okazaki show how repopulation efficiency can be increased to a level at which the fertility of infertile hosts is restored.


Transient suppression of transplanted spermatogonial stem cell differentiation restores fertility in mice

Nakamura Y et al. (2021) Cell Stem Cell. DOI: 10.1016/j.stem.2021.03.016


Highlights from the paper

  • Following transplantation, spermatogonial stem cells follow stochastic clone dynamics
  • Most initially settled stem cells are lost through chance differentiation and death
  • Donor cell differentiation can be suppressed using a retinoic acid synthesis inhibitor
  • Transient differentiation block boosts repopulation and restores fertility of the host

Summary from the paper

A remarkable feature of tissue stem cells is their ability to regenerate the structure and function of host tissue following transplantation. However, the dynamics of donor stem cells during regeneration remains largely unknown.

Here we conducted quantitative clonal fate studies of transplanted mouse spermatogonial stem cells in host seminiferous tubules. We found that, after a large population of donor spermatogonia settle in host testes, through stochastic fate choice, only a small fraction persist and regenerate over the long term, and the rest are lost through differentiation and cell death.

Further, based on these insights, we showed how repopulation efficiency can be increased to a level where the fertility of infertile hosts is restored by transiently suppressing differentiation using a chemical inhibitor of retinoic acid synthesis.

These findings unlock a range of potential applications of spermatogonial transplantation, from fertility restoration in individuals with cancer to conservation of biological diversity.


Read more about research in the Simons lab.

Watch Ben Simons describe his research on YouTube.

Covid FAQs


Institute reopening

The Gurdon Institute reopened on Monday 15th June. Many staff will continue to work from home, and all staff may be contacted by email.

Studying development to understand disease

The Gurdon Institute is funded by Wellcome and Cancer Research UK to study the biology of development, and how normal growth and maintenance go wrong in cancer and other diseases.

combinedLogo x3 trans2018

Watch us on YouTube!