Participating Faculty

John Oatley

Jon Oatley

Department:Center for Reproductive Biology, Director & School of Molecular Biosciences
Office:Biotechnology/Life Sciences 302EA
Mailing Address:Center for Reproductive Biology
PO Box 647521
Pullman, WA 99164-7521

Research Interests

Male Germline Stem Cell Function

Research Summary

My laboratory studies the regulation of germline stem cell fate decisions in the mammalian testis. Spermatogenesis is a classic model of tissue-specific stem cell biology relying on the activity of spermatogonial stem cells and support from their cognate niche that is provided by contributions from testis somatic cell populations. Also, spermatogenesis is essential for the continuity of a species, contributes to genetic diversity, and determines sex ratios in most mammalian populations. Reduction in or loss of spermatogonial stem cell function disrupts spermatogenesis leading to reproductive failure in males. In addition, because spermatogonial stem cells are the only cells in the body that self-renew and contribute genes to the next generation, they provide an avenue to alter genes within a male’s germline. Aside from medical implications in humans, preservation of genetic lines of endangered species and expanded use of gametes from valuable food or companion animals represents a potential application of spermatogonial stem cell populations utilizing their capacity for regeneration of male germlines upon transplantation. Research in my laboratory involves deciphering; 1) molecular mechanisms within spermatogonial stem cells that control self-renewal and differentiation, 2) pathways controlling postnatal development of the spermatogonial stem cell pool to establish the adult stem cell population, and 3) determinants of the stem cell niche microenvironment within mammalian testes. The current focus is on investigating the role of basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) proteins in controlling spermatogonial stem cell fate decisions, the influence of non-coding small RNAs on establishment of the spermatogonial stem cell pool, and identifying growth factors produced by testis somatic support cell populations that contribute to the niche microenvironment.

Research Publications

Selected Publications 2013-2018

Lord T, Oatley MJ, Oatley JM., (2018). “Testicular Architecture Is Critical for Mediation of Retinoic Acid Responsiveness by Undifferentiated Spermatogonial Subtypes in the Mouse”. Stem Cell Reports (18)30029-8.

Agrimson KS, Oatley MJ, Mitchell D, Oatley JM, Griswold MD, Hogarth CA. (2017). “Retinoic acid deficiency leads to an increase in spermatogonial stem number in the neonatal mouse testis, but excess retinoic acid results in no change”. Dev Biol. 432(2):229-236.

Lord T, Oatley JM., (2017). “A revised Asingle model to explain stem cell dynamics in the mouse male germline”. Reproduction. 154(2):R55-R64

Helsel AR, Yang QE, Oatley MJ, Lord T, Sablitzky F, Oatley JM., (2017). “ID4 levels dictate the stem cell state in mouse spermatogonia”. Development.144(4):624-634

Park KE, Kaucher AV, Powell A, Waqas MS, Sandmaier SE, Oatley MJ, Park CH, Tibary A, Donovan DM, Blomberg LA, Lillico SG, Whitelaw CB, Mileham A, Telugu BP, Oatley JM., (2017). “Generation of germline ablated male pigs by CRISPR/Cas9 editing of the NANOS2 gene”.Sci Rep. 7:40176.

Helsel AR, Oatley JM. (2017). “Transplantation as a Quantitative Assay to Study Mammalian Male Germline Stem Cells”. Methods Mol Biol.1463:155-172.

Mutoji K., et. al., (2016). “TSPAN8 Expression Distinguishes Spermatogonial Stem Cells in the Prepubertal Mouse Testis”. Biol Reprod. 95(6):117.

Oatley MJ, Kaucher AV, Yang QE, Waqas MS, Oatley JM. (2016) “Conditions for Long-Term Culture of Cattle Undifferentiated Spermatogonia”. Biol Reprod. 95(1):14.

Hammoud SS., (2015). “Transcription and imprinting dynamics in developing postnatal male germline stem cells”.Genes Dev. 29(21):2312-24

Geister KA., et. al. (2015). “LINE-1 Mediated Insertion into Poc1a (Protein of Centriole 1 A) Causes Growth Insufficiency and Male Infertility in Mice”. PLoS Genet. 11(10)

Yang QE, Nagaoka SI, Gwost I, Hunt PA, Oatley JM (2015). “Inactivation of Retinoblastoma Protein (Rb1) in the Oocyte: Evidence That Dysregulated Follicle Growth Drives Ovarian Teratoma Formation in Mice”. PLoS Genet. 11(7).

Vrooman LA, Oatley JM, Griswold JE, Hassold TJ, Hunt PA (2015). “Estrogenic exposure alters the spermatogonial stem cells in the developing testis, permanently reducing crossover levels in the adult”. PLoS Genet. 11(1).

Hermann, BP., et al. (2015). “Transcriptional and translational heterogeneity among neonatal mouse spermatogonia.” Biol Reprod 92(2):54.

Chan, F., et al. (2014). "Functional and molecular features of the Id4+ germline stem cell population in mouse testes." Genes Dev 28(12): 1351-1362.

Yang, Q. E. and J. M. Oatley (2014). "Spermatogonial stem cell functions in physiological and pathological conditions." Curr Top Dev Biol 107: 235-267.

Griswold, M. D. and J. M. Oatley (2013). "Concise review: Defining characteristics of mammalian spermatogenic stem cells." Stem Cells 31(1): 8-11.

Mistry, B. V., et al. (2013). "Differential expression of PRAMEL1, a cancer/testis antigen, during spermatogenesis in the mouse." PLoS One 8(4): e60611.

Yang, Q. E., et al. (2013). "Retinoblastoma protein (RB1) controls fate determination in stem cells and progenitors of the mouse male germline." Biol Reprod 89(5): 113.

Yang Q., Kaucher A.V., Kim D-W., Oatley M.J., Oatley J.M. 2013. CXCL12/CXCR4 signaling is required for maintenance of spermatogonial stem cells. J Cell Sci. In Press.

Yang Q., Racicot K.E., Kaucher A.V. Oatley M.J., Oatley J.M. 2013. MicroRNAs 221/222 regulate the undifferentiated state in mammalian male germ cells. Development. 140: 280-290.


Washington State University