The in vitro derivation and propagation of spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) from pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) is a key goal in reproductive science. We show here that when aggregated with embryonic testicular somatic cells (reconstituted testes), primordial germ cell-like cells (PGCLCs) induced from mouse embryonic stem cells differentiate into spermatogonia-like cells in vitro and are expandable as cells that resemble germline stem cells (GSCs), a primary cell line with SSC activity. Remarkably, GSC-like cells (GSCLCs), but not PGCLCs, colonize adult testes and, albeit less effectively than GSCs, contribute to spermatogenesis and fertile offspring. Whole-genome analyses reveal that GSCLCs exhibit aberrant methylation at vulnerable regulatory elements, including those critical for spermatogenesis, which may restrain their spermatogenic potential. Our study establishes a strategy for the in vitro derivation of SSC activity from PSCs, which, we propose, relies on faithful epigenomic regulation.
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