The Mammalian Spermatogenesis Single-Cell Transcriptome, from Spermatogonial Stem Cells to Spermatids

Cell Rep. 2018 Nov 6;25(6):1650-1667.e8. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.10.026.


Spermatogenesis is a complex and dynamic cellular differentiation process critical to male reproduction and sustained by spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs). Although patterns of gene expression have been described for aggregates of certain spermatogenic cell types, the full continuum of gene expression patterns underlying ongoing spermatogenesis in steady state was previously unclear. Here, we catalog single-cell transcriptomes for >62,000 individual spermatogenic cells from immature (postnatal day 6) and adult male mice and adult men. This allowed us to resolve SSC and progenitor spermatogonia, elucidate the full range of gene expression changes during male meiosis and spermiogenesis, and derive unique gene expression signatures for multiple mouse and human spermatogenic cell types and/or subtypes. These transcriptome datasets provide an information-rich resource for studies of SSCs, male meiosis, testicular cancer, male infertility, or contraceptive development, as well as a gene expression roadmap to be emulated in efforts to achieve spermatogenesis in vitro.

Keywords: RNA; continuum; heterogeneity; human; male germ cells; meiosis; mouse; spermiogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aging / genetics
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Haploidy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mammals / genetics*
  • Meiosis
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Signal Transduction
  • Single-Cell Analysis*
  • Spermatids / cytology*
  • Spermatids / metabolism
  • Spermatogenesis / genetics*
  • Spermatogonia / cytology*
  • Spermatogonia / metabolism
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Testis / cytology
  • Transcriptome / genetics*