Arrest of spermatogonial differentiation in jsd/jsd, Sl17H/Sl17H, and cryptorchid mice

D G de Rooij, M Okabe, Y Nishimune
Biology of Reproduction 1999, 61 (3): 842-7
The nature of the spermatogenic arrest in cryptorchid C57Bl mice and in jsd/jsd and Sl17H/Sl17H mutant mice was identified by studying whole mounts of seminiferous tubules. In all three types of mice, virtually only A spermatogonia were found, topographically arranged in clones of 1 to 16 (rarely more) cells. These clonal sizes are typical for undifferentiated spermatogonia. The proportion of these cells lying in chains of more than 2 cells (50-70%) was comparable to that seen in epithelial stages VII-VIII in the normal epithelium. It is concluded that in all three types of mice, spermatogenesis is arrested at the point where the undifferentiated A spermatogonia, specifically A(al) spermatogonia, differentiate into the first generation of the differentiating-type spermatogonia, the A1 spermatogonia. The remaining A spermatogonia were proliferating, but no accumulation of spermatogonia was present, as spermatogonial apoptosis also took place. Spermatogonial clones of all sizes were seen to undergo apoptosis, but there were relatively many large apoptotic clones, indicating that the clones became more vulnerable when they became larger. In contrast to what is seen in the normal epithelium, odd-numbered clones, not composed of 2(n) cells, were present, as well as clumps of 2 or more spermatogonial nuclei in the same cytoplasm, in all three types of mice. This indicates a lack of integrity of spermatogonial clones, also observed in other situations with a relative paucity of cells on the basal membrane. It is concluded that the differentiation of the undifferentiated spermatogonia, affected in all three types of mice as well as in vitamin A-deficient animals, is a rather vulnerable point in the spermatogenic developmental pathway.

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