Research Article

Laboratory Investigation (2006) 86, 654–663. doi:10.1038/labinvest.3700429; published online 1 May 2006

Derivation of male germ cells from bone marrow stem cells

Karim Nayernia1, Jae Ho Lee1, Nadja Drusenheimer1, Jessica Nolte1, Gerald Wulf2, Ralf Dressel3, Jörg Gromoll4 and Wolfgang Engel1

  1. 1Institute of Human Genetics, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany
  2. 2Department of Haematology and Oncology, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany
  3. 3Department of Cellular and Molecular Immunology, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany
  4. 4Institute of Reproductive Medicine, University of Münster, Münster, Germany

Correspondence: Professor Dr K Nayernia, PhD, Institute of Human Genetics, University of Göttingen, Heinrich Düker Weg 12, Göttingen 37073, Germany. E-mail:

Received 13 October 2005; Revised 27 February 2006; Accepted 8 March 2006; Published online 1 May 2006.



Recent studies have demonstrated that somatic stem cells have a more flexible potential than expected, whether put into tissue or cultured under different conditions. Bone marrow (BM)-derived stem cells can transdifferentiate into multilineage cells, such as muscle of mesoderm, lung and liver of endoderm, and brain and skin of ectoderm origin. Here we show that BM stem cells are able to transdifferentiate into male germ cells. For derivation of male germ cells from adult BM stem (BMS) cells, we used the Stra8-enhanced green fluoresence protein (EGFP) transgenic mouse line expressing EGFP specifically in male germ cells. BMS cell-derived germ cells expressed the known molecular markers of primordial germ cells, such as fragilis, stella, Rnf17, Mvh and Oct4; as well as molecular markers of spermatogonial stem cells and spermatogonia including Rbm, c-Kit, Tex18, Stra8, Piwil2, Dazl, Hsp90alpha, beta1- and alpha6-integrins. Our ability to derive male germ cells from BMS cells reveals novel aspects of germ cell development and opens the possibilities for use of these cells in reproductive medicine.


mesenchymal stem cells, transdifferentiation, spermatogonial stem cells



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