Special Issue "Female Germline Stem Cells"

A special issue of Cells (ISSN 2073-4409). This special issue belongs to the section "Stem Cells".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 May 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Evelyn Telfer
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Cell Biology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
Interests: ovarian development; germline stem cells; in vitro growth; human oocyte development
Dr. Dori Woods
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Biology, Northeastern University, Boston, USA
Interests: female germline stem cells; mitochondria in health and disease; aging; reproductive health
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

For almost a century, there has been a debate surrounding the ability of adult female mammals to undergo post-natal germ cell renewal. In 2004, a study proposing germ cell renewal in adult female mice was published, and, since then, the isolation of mitotically active cells expressing germline markers has been reported from the ovaries of adult rodents, cows, sheep, primates, and humans. The development of these oogonial stem cells (OSCs) in vitro and the generation of live young from fully differentiated rodent OSCs has also been described.

Whilst there remains controversy over the biological significance of these cells, it must be acknowledged that the identification and isolation of populations of cells with germline potential within the adult mammalian ovary in general, and the human ovary in particular, represents a significant advance with the potential to change infertility treatments.

The aim of this Special Issue is to provide an overview of the developments in this field from expert laboratories to highlight the methodology used to isolate and characterise these cells and to place these cells in the context of our understanding of mammalian ovarian development.

Prof. Evelyn Telfer
Dr. Dori Woods
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • female germline stem cells
  • oogonial stem cells
  • ovarian development

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Similar Population of CD133+ and DDX4+ VSEL-Like Stem Cells Sorted from Human Embryonic Stem Cell, Ovarian, and Ovarian Cancer Ascites Cell Cultures: The Real Embryonic Stem Cells?
Cells 2019, 8(7), 706; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells8070706 - 11 Jul 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1627
Abstract
A population of small stem cells with diameters of up to 5 μm resembling very small embryonic-like stem cells (VSELs) were sorted from human embryonic stem cell (hESC) cultures using magnetic-activated cell sorting (MACS) based on the expression of a stem-cell-related marker prominin-1 [...] Read more.
A population of small stem cells with diameters of up to 5 μm resembling very small embryonic-like stem cells (VSELs) were sorted from human embryonic stem cell (hESC) cultures using magnetic-activated cell sorting (MACS) based on the expression of a stem-cell-related marker prominin-1 (CD133). These VSEL-like stem cells had nuclei that almost filled the whole cell volume and expressed stem-cell-related markers (CD133, SSEA-4) and markers of germinal lineage (DDX4/VASA, PRDM14). They were comparable to similar populations of small stem cells sorted from cell cultures of normal ovaries and were the predominant cells in ascites of recurrent ovarian cancer. The sorted populations of CD133+ VSEL-like stem cells were quiescent in vitro, except for ascites, and were highly activated after exposure to valproic acid and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), indicating a new tool to study these cells in vitro. These VSEL-like stem cells spontaneously formed clusters resembling tumour-like structures or grew into larger, oocyte-like cells and were differentiated in vitro into adipogenic, osteogenic and neural lineages after sorting. We propose the population of VSEL-like stem cells from hESC cultures as potential original embryonic stem cells, which are present in the human embryo, persist in adult human ovaries from the embryonic period of life and are involved in cancer manifestation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Female Germline Stem Cells)
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Open AccessArticle
C89 Induces Autophagy of Female Germline Stem Cells via Inhibition of the PI3K-Akt Pathway In Vitro
Cells 2019, 8(6), 606; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells8060606 - 18 Jun 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1596
Abstract
Postnatal female germline stem cells (FGSCs) are a type of germline stem cell with self-renewal ability and the capacity of differentiation toward oocyte. The proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis of FGSCs have been researched in recent years, but autophagy in FGSCs has not been [...] Read more.
Postnatal female germline stem cells (FGSCs) are a type of germline stem cell with self-renewal ability and the capacity of differentiation toward oocyte. The proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis of FGSCs have been researched in recent years, but autophagy in FGSCs has not been explored. This study investigated the effects of the small-molecule compound 89 (C89) on FGSCs and the underlying molecular mechanism in vitro. Cytometry, Cell Counting Kit-8 (CCK8), and 5-ethynyl-2’-deoxyuridine (EdU) assay showed that the number, viability, and proliferation of FGSCs were significantly reduced in C89-treated groups (0.5, 1, and 2 µM) compared with controls. C89 had no impact on FGSC apoptosis or differentiation. However, C89 treatment induced the expression of light chain 3 beta II (LC3BII) and reduced the expression of sequestosome-1 (SQSTM1) in FGSCs, indicating that C89 induced FGSC autophagy. To investigate the mechanism of C89-induced FGSC autophagy, RNA-seq technology was used to compare the transcriptome differences between C89-treated FGSCs and controls. Bioinformatics analysis of the sequencing data indicated a potential involvement of the phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase and kinase Akt (PI3K-Akt) pathway in the effects of C89′s induction of autophagy in FGSCs. Western blot confirmed that levels of p-PI3K and p-Akt were significantly reduced in the C89- or LY294002 (PI3K inhibitor)-treated groups compared with controls. Moreover, we found cooperative functions of C89 and LY294002 in inducing FGSC autophagy through suppressing the PI3K-Akt pathway. Taken together, this research demonstrates that C89 can reduce the number, viability, and proliferation of FGSCs by inducing autophagy. Furthermore, C89 induced FGSC autophagy by inhibiting the activity of PI3K and Akt. The PI3K-Akt pathway may be a target to regulate FGSC proliferation and death. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Female Germline Stem Cells)
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Open AccessArticle
Extracellular Localisation of the C-Terminus of DDX4 Confirmed by Immunocytochemistry and Fluorescence-Activated Cell Sorting
Cells 2019, 8(6), 578; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells8060578 - 12 Jun 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1591
Abstract
Putative oogonial stem cells (OSCs) have been isolated by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) from adult human ovarian tissue using an antibody against DEAD-box helicase 4 (DDX4). DDX4 has been reported to be germ cell specific within the gonads and localised intracellularly. White et [...] Read more.
Putative oogonial stem cells (OSCs) have been isolated by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) from adult human ovarian tissue using an antibody against DEAD-box helicase 4 (DDX4). DDX4 has been reported to be germ cell specific within the gonads and localised intracellularly. White et al. (2012) hypothesised that the C-terminus of DDX4 is localised on the surface of putative OSCs but is internalised during the process of oogenesis. This hypothesis is controversial since it is assumed that RNA helicases function intracellularly with no extracellular expression. To determine whether the C-terminus of DDX4 could be expressed on the cell surface, we generated a novel expression construct to express full-length DDX4 as a DsRed2 fusion protein with unique C- and N-terminal epitope tags. DDX4 and the C-terminal myc tag were detected at the cell surface by immunocytochemistry and FACS of non-permeabilised human embryonic kidney HEK 293T cells transfected with the DDX4 construct. DDX4 mRNA expression was detected in the DDX4-positive sorted cells by RT-PCR. This study clearly demonstrates that the C-terminus of DDX4 can be expressed on the cell surface despite its lack of a conventional membrane-targeting or secretory sequence. These results validate the use of antibody-based FACS to isolate DDX4-positive putative OSCs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Female Germline Stem Cells)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Mitochondria and Female Germline Stem Cells—A Mitochondrial DNA Perspective
Cells 2019, 8(8), 852; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells8080852 - 08 Aug 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1688
Abstract
Mitochondria and mitochondrial DNA have important roles to play in development. In primordial germ cells, they progress from small numbers to populate the maturing oocyte with high numbers to support post-fertilization events. These processes take place under the control of significant changes in [...] Read more.
Mitochondria and mitochondrial DNA have important roles to play in development. In primordial germ cells, they progress from small numbers to populate the maturing oocyte with high numbers to support post-fertilization events. These processes take place under the control of significant changes in DNA methylation and other epigenetic modifiers, as well as changes to the DNA methylation status of the nuclear-encoded mitochondrial DNA replication factors. Consequently, the differentiating germ cell requires significant synchrony between the two genomes in order to ensure that they are fit for purpose. In this review, I examine these processes in the context of female germline stem cells that are isolated from the ovary and those derived from embryonic stem cells and reprogrammed somatic cells. Although our knowledge is limited in this respect, I provide predictions based on other cellular systems of what is expected and provide insight into how these cells could be used in clinical medicine. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Female Germline Stem Cells)
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Open AccessReview
Ddx4+ Oogonial Stem Cells in Postmenopausal Women’s Ovaries: A Controversial, Undefined Role
Cells 2019, 8(7), 650; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells8070650 - 28 Jun 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1432
Abstract
Recent studies support the existence of oogonial stem cells (OSCs) in the ovarian cortex of different mammals, including women.These cells are characterized by small size, membrane expression of DEAD(Asp-Glu-Ala-Asp)-box polypeptide-4 (Ddx4), and stemness properties (such as self-renewal and clonal expansion) as well as [...] Read more.
Recent studies support the existence of oogonial stem cells (OSCs) in the ovarian cortex of different mammals, including women.These cells are characterized by small size, membrane expression of DEAD(Asp-Glu-Ala-Asp)-box polypeptide-4 (Ddx4), and stemness properties (such as self-renewal and clonal expansion) as well as the ability to differentiate in vitro into oocyte-like cells. However, the discovery of OSCs contrasts with the popular theory that there is a numerically defined oocyte pool for female fertility which undergoes exhaustion with menopause. Indeed, in the ovarian cortex of postmenopausal women OSCs have been detected that possess both viability and capability to differentiate into oocytes, which is similar to those observed in younger patients. The pathophysiological role of this cell population in aged women is still debated since OSCs, under appropriate stimuli, differentiate into somatic cells, and the occurrence of Ddx4+ cells in ovarian tumor samples also suggests their potential involvement in carcinogenesis. Although further investigation into these observations is needed to clarify OSC function in ovary physiology, clinical investigators and researchers studying female infertility are presently focusing on OSCs as a novel opportunity to restore ovarian reserve in both young women undergoing early ovarian failure and cancer survivors experiencing iatrogenic menopause. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Female Germline Stem Cells)
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Open AccessReview
Implications and Current Limitations of Oogenesis from Female Germline or Oogonial Stem Cells in Adult Mammalian Ovaries
Cells 2019, 8(2), 93; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells8020093 - 28 Jan 2019
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 3472
Abstract
A now large body of evidence supports the existence of mitotically active germ cells in postnatal ovaries of diverse mammalian species, including humans. This opens the possibility that adult stem cells naturally committed to a germline fate could be leveraged for the production [...] Read more.
A now large body of evidence supports the existence of mitotically active germ cells in postnatal ovaries of diverse mammalian species, including humans. This opens the possibility that adult stem cells naturally committed to a germline fate could be leveraged for the production of female gametes outside of the body. The functional properties of these cells, referred to as female germline or oogonial stem cells (OSCs), in ovaries of women have recently been tested in various ways, including a very recent investigation of the differentiation capacity of human OSCs at a single cell level. The exciting insights gained from these experiments, coupled with other data derived from intraovarian transplantation and genetic tracing analyses in animal models that have established the capacity of OSCs to generate healthy eggs, embryos and offspring, should drive constructive discussions in this relatively new field to further exploring the value of these cells to the study, and potential management, of human female fertility. Here, we provide a brief history of the discovery and characterization of OSCs in mammals, as well as of the in-vivo significance of postnatal oogenesis to adult ovarian function. We then highlight several key observations made recently on the biology of OSCs, and integrate this information into a broader discussion of the potential value and limitations of these adult stem cells to achieving a greater understanding of human female gametogenesis in vivo and in vitro. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Female Germline Stem Cells)
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