A highly pure and viable primordial germ cell (PGC) population appears to be an essential tool for establishing a cell line that can differentiate into a germ cell lineage and for studying the molecular biology and biochemistry of fish PGCs. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to establish a flow cytometric method for isolating highly pure and viable PGCs. As the material for PGC isolation, we used transgenic rainbow trout possessing the green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene driven by trout vasa-gene regulatory sequences (pvasa-GFP). Four independent transgenic strains were subjected to fluorescence microscopy and GFP-dependent flow cytometric analyses. We found that some of the pvasa-GFP transgenic strains exhibited ectopic background green fluorescence in the somatic cells aside from strong fluorescence in PGCs. Although flow cytometric analysis of genital ridge somatic cells in the four pvasa-GFP transgenic strains revealed a wide range of GFP intensities, we proved that somatic cell contamination of the GFP-positive cell population was markedly reduced if transgenic strains without the ectopic background green fluorescence were used. In addition, the forward light-scattering (FS) property, which is an indication of relative cell size, and the side light-scattering (SS) property, which is determined by cell shape and granularity, were employed to remove non-PGC contaminants from the GFP-positive cell population. By isolating GFP-positive cells with high FS/SS values, we were able to effectively remove cell blebs and the apoptotic fraction. Consequently, the purities and survival rates of isolated PGCs were greatly improved compared with those using GFP intensity as a single indicator. Thus, our flow cytometric method, in combination with the selection of suitable transgenic strains without the ectopic background green fluorescence, is capable of isolating highly pure and viable PGCs from rainbow trout. By using this method in combination with cell-cryopreservation and cell transplantation techniques, the isolated PGCs may also be used for preserving the genetic resources of endangered fish species and domesticated fish strains carrying commercially valuable traits. Mol. Reprod. Dev. 67: 91-100, 2004.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.