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Identification of a specific Sertoli cell marker, Sox9, for use in transplantation.

  • Hemendinger, R A
  • Gores, P
  • Blacksten, L
  • Harley, V
  • Halberstadt, C
Published Article
Cell transplantation
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2002
PMID: 12428738


The immunoprivileged environment of the testes was first described in the 1930s, and the Sertoli cell was later identified as the main cell type responsible for this phenomenon. Recent work has examined the possibility of recreating this immunoprivileged environment at heterotopic sites using isolated Sertoli cells. These studies have focused on protection of pancreatic islets and neuronal cells from immune destruction in the hopes of reversing type I diabetes and Parkinson's disease. The absence of a definitive marker for identifying Sertoli cells at the transplant site has been an obstacle to this research. The current study examines the presence of a nuclear transcription factor, Sox9, which is preferentially expressed in Sertoli cells. Syngeneic Lewis rat Sertoli cells were transplanted into the renal subcapsular space and a subcutaneous site in Lewis female rats and examined histologically 21 days later. In addition, porcine Sertoli cells were transplanted into the renal subcapsular space in female SCID mice. Control testes and the transplant sites were examined immunohistochemically using an antibody to Sox9. The results from the study demonstrate that Sox9 expression is restricted to the Sertoli cells of the neonatal rat and porcine testis, indicating high homology between species. In addition, Sox9 expression was also observed in the testicular-like tubules that formed in both syngeneic and xenogeneic heterotopic transplants in rats and SCID mice. The Sox9 expression was restricted to the regions where Sertoli cells would be found in the native testis. These results suggest that the Sox9 protein is a useful marker in identifying Sertoli cells in heterotopic transplants in a manner similar to insulin as a marker for pancreatic islets.


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