Distinct germline progenitor subsets defined through Tsc2-mTORC1 signaling

Robin M Hobbs, Hue Mai La, Juho-Antti Makela, Toshiyuki Kobayashi, Tetsuo Noda, Pier P Pandolfi

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34 Citations (Scopus)


Adult tissue maintenance is often dependent on resident stem cells; however, the phenotypic and functional heterogeneity existing within this self-renewing population is poorly understood. Here, we define distinct subsets of undifferentiated spermatogonia (spermatogonial progenitor cells; SPCs) by differential response to hyperactivation of mTORC1, a key growth-promoting pathway. We find that conditional deletion of the mTORC1 inhibitor Tsc2 throughout the SPC pool using Vasa-Cre promotes differentiation at the expense of self-renewal and leads to germline degeneration. Surprisingly, Tsc2 ablation within a subset of SPCs using Stra8-Cre did not compromise SPC function. SPC activity also appeared unaffected by Amh-Cre-mediated Tsc2 deletion within somatic cells of the niche. Importantly, we find that differentiation-prone SPCs have elevated mTORC1 activity when compared to SPCs with high self-renewal potential. Moreover, SPCs insensitive to Tsc2 deletion are preferentially associated with mTORC1-active committed progenitor fractions. We therefore delineate SPC subsets based on differential mTORC1 activity and correlated sensitivity to Tsc2 deletion. We propose that mTORC1 is a key regulator of SPC fate and defines phenotypically distinct SPC subpopulations with varying propensities for self-renewal and differentiation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467 - 480
Number of pages14
JournalEMBO Reports
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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