Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have created the first mammalian gametes grown in vitro directly from embryonic stem cells. The work, in which mouse stem cells placed in Petri dishes -- without any special growth or transcription factors -- grew into oocytes and then into embryos, will be reported this week on the web site of the journal Science.
The results demonstrate that even outside the body embryonic stem cells remain totipotent, or capable of generating any of the bodys tissues, said lead researcher Hans R. Schöler of Penns School of Veterinary Medicine.
"Most scientists have thought it impossible to grow gametes from stem cells outside the body, since earlier efforts have yielded only somatic cells," said Schöler, professor of reproduction medicine and director of Penns Center for Animal Transgenesis and Germ Cell Research. "We found that not only can mouse embryonic stem cells produce oocytes, but that these oocytes can then enter meiosis, recruit adjacent cells to form structures similar to the follicles that surround and nurture natural mouse eggs, and develop into embryos."
Steve Bradt | EurekAlert!
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