Department of Biological Science, National University of Singapore, 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260, Singapore
Stem cells have the potential for self-renewal and differentiation. First stem cell cultures were derived 30 years ago from early developing mouse embryos. These are pluripotent embryonic stem (ES) cells. Efforts towards ES cell derivation have been attempted in other mammalian and non-mammalian species. Work with stem cell culture in fish started 20 years ago. Laboratory fish species, in particular zebrafish and medaka, have been the focus of research towards stem cell cultures. Medaka is the second organism that generated ES cells and the first that gave rise to a spermatogonial stem cell line capable of test-tube sperm production. Most recently, the first haploid stem cells capable of producing whole animals have also been generated from medaka. ES-like cells have been reported also in zebrafish and several marine species. Attempts for germline transmission of ES cell cultures and gene targeting have been reported in zebrafish. Recent years have witnessed the progress in markers and procedures for ES cell characterization. These include the identification of fish homologs/paralogs of mammalian pluripotency genes and parameters for optimal chimera formation. In addition, fish germ cell cultures and transplantation have attracted considerable interest for germline transmission and surrogate production. Haploid ES cell nuclear transfer has proven in medaka the feasibility of semi-cloning as a novel assisted reproductive technology. In this special issue on “Fish Stem Cells and Nuclear Transfer”, we will focus our review on medaka to illustrate the current status and perspective of fish stem cells in research and application. We will also mention semi-cloning as a new development to conventional nuclear transfer.
Keywords: chimera, gene targeting, germ cell, medaka, stem cell, pluripotency, semi-cloning