Mouse Sertoli cells isolation by lineage tracing and sorting

Helena D. Zomer, Prabhakara P. Reddi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sertoli cells play a key role in spermatogenesis by supporting the germ cells throughout differentiation. The isolation of Sertoli cells is essential to study their functions. However, the close contact of Sertoli cells with other testicular cell types and the high proliferation of contaminating cells are obstacles to obtain pure primary cultures. Current rodent Sertoli cell isolation protocols result in enriched, rather than pure Sertoli cells. Therefore, novel approaches are necessary to improve the purity of Sertoli cell primary cultures. The goal of this study is to obtain pure mouse Sertoli cells using lineage tracing and fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS). We bred the Amh-Cre mouse line with tdTomato line to generate mice constitutively expressing red fluorescence specifically in Sertoli cells. Primary cultures of Sertoli cells isolated from prepubertal mice showed that 79% of cells expressed tdTomato, as evaluated by fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry; however, nearly all adherent cells were positive for vimentin. Most of the tomato-negative cells expressed α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), a peritubular myoid cell marker, but double-negative populations were also present. These findings suggest that vimentin lacks Sertoli cell-specificity and that α-SMA is not adequate to identify all of the contaminating cells. Upon FACS sorting; however, virtually 100% of the cells were tdTomato positive, expressed vimentin, but not α-SMA. Prepubertal mice yielded a higher number of Sertoli cells compared to adults, but both could be adequately sorted. In conclusion, our study shows that lineage tracing and sorting is an efficient strategy for acquiring pure populations of murine Sertoli cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)871-879
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular reproduction and development
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • Amh-Cre
  • FACS
  • Sertoli cell markers
  • Sertoli cell primary culture
  • tdTomato

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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