TSPAN8 expression distinguishes spermatogonial stem cells in the prepubertal mouse testis

Kazadi Mutoji, Anukriti Singh, Thu Nguyen, Heidi Gildersleeve, Amy V. Kaucher, Melissa J. Oatley, Jon M. Oatley, Ellen K. Velte, Christopher B. Geyer, Keren Cheng, John R. McCarrey, Brian P. Hermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Precise separation of spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) from progenitor spermatogonia that lack stem cell activity and are committed to differentiation remains a challenge. To distinguish between these spermatogonial subtypes, we identified genes that exhibited bimodal mRNA levels at the single-cell level among undifferentiated spermatogonia from Postnatal Day 6 mouse testes, including Tspan8, Epha2, and Pvr, each of which encode cell surface proteins useful for cell selection. Transplantation studies provided definitive evidence that a TSPAN8-high subpopulation is enriched for SSCs. RNA-seq analyses identified genes differentially expressed between TSPAN8-high and -low subpopulations that clustered into multiple biological pathways potentially involved in SSC renewal or differentiation, respectively. Methyl-seq analysis identified hypomethylated domains in the promoters of these genes in both subpopulations that colocalized with peaks of histone modifications defined by ChIP-seq analysis. Taken together, these results demonstrate functional heterogeneity among mouse undifferentiated spermatogonia and point to key biological characteristics that distinguish SSCs from progenitor spermatogonia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalBiology of reproduction
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Epigenetics
  • Single-cell
  • Spermatogonial stem cells
  • Surface marker
  • Transcriptome
  • Transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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