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Germ cells

Germ cells are essential for reproduction and evolution of all sexually reproducing organisms. Most of our knowledge about the characteristics and properties of mammalian germ cells was obtained from the mouse as model organism. However, there are significant differences between mouse and primate germ cells. We are especially interested in primate germ cells and investigate their development and characteristics in situ (in the context of the whole organ) as well as in vitro (i.e.  in cell culture).

(c) Stem Cell Biology Unit
LIN 28 (green staining) is important in embryonic stem cells.
(c) Stem Cell Biology Unit
The protein LIN 28 is specificly detectable in embryonic germ cells (brown staining)

The mammalian testis produces several millions of sperm cells per day. Besides the bone marrow it is the tissue exhibiting the highest cell proliferative activity. Testicular stem cells, which fuel this huge amount of sperm output, are called spermatogonial stem cells. Like other adult stem cell types, they are on the one hand able to maintain their own stem cell pool and, on the other hand, to replenish the pool of sperm cell progenitors, which subsequently differentiate into sperm cells. Interestingly, spermatogonial stem cells as well as their developmental progenitors (primordial germ cells and gonocytes) share many characteristics with pluripotent embryonic stem cells. We are investigating molecular and cellular similarities between pluripotent stem cells and premeiotic germ cells in primates.

Aeckerle N, Eildermann K, Drummer C, Ehmcke J, Schweyer S, Lerchl A, Bergmann M, Kliesch S, Gromoll J, Schlatt S, Behr R (2012):
The pluripotency factor LIN28 in monkey and human testis: a marker for spermatogonial stem cells?
Mol Human Reprod 18(10): 477-488.

Warthemann R, Eildermann K, Debowski K, Behr R (2012):
False-positive antibody signals for the pluripotency factor OCT4A (POU5F1) in testis-derived cells may lead to erroneous data and misinterpretations.
Mol Hum Reprod 18(12): 605-612.

Eildermann K, Aeckerle N, Debowski K, Godmann M, Christiansen H, Heistermann M, Schweyer S, Bergmann M, Kliesch S, Gromoll J, Ehmcke J, Schlatt S, Behr R (2012):
Developmental expression of the pluripotency factor SAL-Like Protein 4 in the monkey, human and mouse testis: restriction to premeiotic germ cells.
Cells Tissues Organs 196 (3): 206-220.

Eildermann K, Gromoll J, Behr R (2012):
Misleading and reliable markers to differentiate between primate testis-derived multipotent stromal cells and spermatogonia in culture.
Hum Reprod 27: 1754-1767.