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Initial characterisation of adult human ovarian cell populations isolated by DDX4 expression and aldehyde dehydrogenase activity

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Original languageEnglish
Article number6953
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Reports
Early online date3 May 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 May 2018


The existence of a population of putative stem cells with germline developmental potential (oogonial stem cells: OSCs) in the adult mammalian ovary has been marked by controversy over isolation methodology and potential for in-vitro transformation, particularly where cell sorting has been based on expression of DEAD box polypeptide 4 (DDX4). This study describes a refined tissue dissociation/fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) protocol for the ovaries of adult women which results in increased cell viability and yield of putative OSCs. A FACS technique incorporating dual-detection of DDX4 with aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 (ALDH1) demonstrates the existence of two sub-populations of small DDX4-positive cells (approx. 7 µm diameter) with ALDH1 activity, distinguished by expression of differentially spliced DDX4 transcripts and of DAZL, a major regulator of germ cell differentiation. These may indicate stages of differentiation from a progenitor population and provide a likely explanation for the expression disparities reported previously. These findings provide a robust basis for the further characterisation of these cells, and exploration of their potential physiological roles and therapeutic application.

    Research areas

  • Adult stem cells, Cell biology

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