Autologous transplantation of spermatogonial stem cells is a promising new avenue to restore fertility in infertile recipients. Expansion of the initial spermatogonial stem cell pool through cell culturing is a necessary step to obtain enough cells for effective repopulation of the testis after transplantation. Since in vitro propagation can lead to (epi-)genetic mutations and possibly malignant transformation of the starting cell population, we set out to investigate genome-wide DNA methylation status in uncultured and cultured primary testicular ITGA6+ sorted cells and compare them with germ cell tumor samples of the seminoma subtype. Seminomas displayed a severely global hypomethylated profile, including loss of genomic imprinting, which we did not detect in cultured primary testicular ITGA6+ cells. Differential methylation analysis revealed altered regulation of gamete formation and meiotic processes in cultured primary testicular ITGA6+ cells but not in seminomas. The pivotal POU5F1 marker was hypomethylated in seminomas but not in uncultured or cultured primary testicular ITGA6+ cells, which is reflected in the POU5F1 mRNA expression levels. Lastly, seminomas displayed a number of characteristic copy number variations that were not detectable in primary testicular ITGA6+ cells, either before or after culture. Together, the data show a distinct DNA methylation patterns in cultured primary testicular ITGA6+ cells that does not resemble the pattern found in seminomas, but also highlight the need for more sensitive methods to fully exclude the presence of malignant cells after culture and to further study the epigenetic events that take place during in vitro culture.,
Department of Pathology

Struijk, R.B. (Robert B.), Dorssers, L.C.J, Henneman, P, Rijlaarsdam, M.A, Venema, A, Jongejan, A. (Aldo), … van Pelt, A.M.M. (Ans M.M.). (2020). Comparing genome-scale DNA methylation and CNV marks between adult human cultured ITGA6+ testicular cells and seminomas to assess in vitro genomic stability. PLoS ONE, 15(3). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0230253