Spermatogonia / Stem Cell Program:
Gary Hime, Kate Loveland, Michael Holland, Shaun Roman, Eileen McLaughlin, David De Krester, John Aitken, Peter Koopman
The Centre's research on spermatagonial stem cells has been organised into 2 subprograms:
Subprogram 1: Drosophila germ cell development
To exploit Drosophila as a model for studying the functional significance of genes involved in the regulation of germ cell development. These studies will help us gain a deeper understanding of the molecular mechanisms responsible for creating and regulating the spermatogonial stem cell population and triggering the ultimate entry of these cells into the spermatogenic pathway.
Drosophila spermatogenesis as a model for male germ cell differentiation represents a simpler, more genetically tractable system than the mouse for gene discovery purposes. The mitotic/meiotic divisions and cell morphological changes that occur during germ line differentiation in Drosophila closely parallel mammalian germ cell differentiation. By exploiting the power of Drosophila genetics we can secure an excellent first pass mechanism for examining the functional significance of genes that have been identified from mammalian expression profiling. Expression patterns of homologous genes can be readily established and gain-of-function or loss-of-function transgenic models rapidly introduced.
Subprogram 2: Male germ cell culture and transfection.
This program aims to address questions of stem cell biology and biotechnology in order to provide the Australian scientific community with an understanding of the molecular mechanisms regulating spermatogonial stem cell function and development of stem cell manipulation technologies.
Spermatogonial stem cells are the undifferentiated, regenerative germ cells that give rise to mature gametes. These cells hold enormous potential for reproductive technologies. Genetic modification and transplantation of stem cells will allow a quantum leap in the efficiency of transgenic animal production. Stem cells also have important ramifications for medical science. If this immortal cell population acquires mutations deleterious to growth control, testicular cancer can result, the most common cancer observed in young men. Stem cells in general have been proposed as vectors for the treatment of a number of human diseases. There is still considerable debate about the similarity, or differences, between stem cell populations and an inadequate knowledge of how any stem cell population in any organ system interacts with, and is regulated by, the cellular microenvironment.