Multiomics approach to profiling Sertoli cell maturation during development of the spermatogonial stem cell niche

Mol Hum Reprod. 2023 Feb 28;29(3):gaad004. doi: 10.1093/molehr/gaad004.


Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) are the basis of spermatogenesis, a complex process supported by a specialized microenvironment, called the SSC niche. Postnatal development of SSCs is characterized by distinct metabolic transitions from prepubertal to adult stages. An understanding of the niche factors that regulate these maturational events is critical for the clinical application of SSCs in fertility preservation. To investigate the niche maturation events that take place during SSC maturation, we combined different '-omics' technologies. Serial single cell RNA sequencing analysis revealed changes in the transcriptomes indicative of niche maturation that was initiated at 11 years of age in humans and at 8 weeks of age in pigs, as evident by Monocle analysis of Sertoli cells and peritubular myoid cell (PMC) development in humans and Sertoli cell analysis in pigs. Morphological niche maturation was associated with lipid droplet accumulation, a characteristic that was conserved between species. Lipidomic profiling revealed an increase in triglycerides and a decrease in sphingolipids with Sertoli cell maturation in the pig model. Quantitative (phospho-) proteomics analysis detected the activation of distinct pathways with porcine Sertoli cell maturation. We show here that the main aspects of niche maturation coincide with the morphological maturation of SSCs, which is followed by their metabolic maturation. The main aspects are also conserved between the species and can be predicted by changes in the niche lipidome. Overall, this knowledge is pivotal to establishing cell/tissue-based biomarkers that could gauge stem cell maturation to facilitate laboratory techniques that allow for SSC transplantation for restoration of fertility.

Keywords: Sertoli cell maturation; lipid metabolism; lipids; metabolic microenvironment; niche development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Multiomics
  • Sertoli Cells* / metabolism
  • Spermatogenesis / physiology
  • Spermatogonia
  • Stem Cell Niche*
  • Swine
  • Testis / metabolism