J L Tilly

Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, United States

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Publications (171)1107.17 Total impact

  • Dori C Woods · Jonathan L Tilly ·

    Nature Medicine 10/2015; 21(10):1118-1121. DOI:10.1038/nm.3964 · 27.36 Impact Factor
  • Eun-Sil Park · Jonathan L Tilly ·
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    ABSTRACT: Several laboratories have independently isolated mitotically active germ cells, termed female germline stem cells or oogonial stem cells (OSCs), from adult mouse ovaries. However, a recent study using Ddx4-Cre;Rosa26 reporter mice concluded that such germ cells do not exist. Given the disparity in conclusions drawn in this study compared with others, we felt it was important to re-assess the utility of Ddx4-Cre;Rosa26 reporter mice for identification of OSCs in adult mouse ovaries. Transgenic Ddx4-Cre mice were crossed with Rosa26tdTm/tdTm mice to drive restricted tomato red (tdTm) gene expression in cells in which the Ddx4 gene promoter has been activated. Crude dispersion of ovaries from recombined offspring generated cell fractions containing tdTm-positive immature oocytes, which are incapable of proliferation and thus probably represent the uncharacterized reporter-positive ovarian cells identified in the paper Zhang et al. (2012) as being mitotically inactive. Dispersed ovaries further subjected to fluorescence-activated cell sorting yielded a large population of non-germline tdTm-positive cells, indicative of promoter ‘leakiness’ in the Ddx4-Cre mouse line. Nonetheless, a small percentage of these tdTm-positive cells exhibited externalized (extracellular, ec) expression of Ddx4 protein (ecDdx4-positive), expressed markers of primitive germ cells but not of oocytes, and actively proliferated in culture, all of which are characteristic features of OSCs. Thus, crude dispersion of ovaries collected from Ddx4 gene promoter-driven reporter mice is not, by itself, a reliable approach to identify OSCs, whereas the same ovarian dispersates further subjected to cell sorting strategies yield purified OSCs that can be expanded in culture.
    Molecular Human Reproduction 08/2014; 21(1). DOI:10.1093/molehr/gau071 · 3.75 Impact Factor
  • Eun-Sil Park · Dori C Woods · Jonathan L Tilly ·
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    ABSTRACT: To test whether bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4) directly regulates differentiation of adult mouse ovary-derived oogonial stem cells (OSCs) in vitro. Animal study. Research laboratory. Adult C57BL/6 female mice. After purification from adult ovaries by fluorescence-activated cell sorting, OSCs were cultured without or with BMP4 in the absence or presence of the BMP4 antagonist, Noggin. Rates of in vitro-derived (IVD) oocyte formation and changes in gene expression were assessed. Cultured OSCs expressed BMP receptor (BMPR) 1A (BMPR1A), BMPR1B, and BMPR2, suggesting that BMP signaling can directly affect OSC function. In agreement with this, BMP4 significantly increased the number of IVD oocytes formed by cultured OSCs in a dose-dependent manner, and this response was inhibited in a dose-dependent fashion by cotreatment with Noggin. Exposure of OSCs to BMP4 was associated with rapid phosphorylation of BMPR-regulated Smad1/5/8 proteins, and this response was followed by increased expression of the meiosis initiation factors, stimulated by retinoic acid gene 8 (Stra8), muscle-segment homeobox 1 (Msx1), and Msx2. In keeping with the IVD oocyte formation data, the ability of BMP4 to activate Smad1/5/8 signaling and meiotic gene expression in OSCs was abolished by cotreatment with Noggin. Engagement of BMP4-mediated signaling in adult mouse ovary-derived OSCs cultured in vitro drives differentiation of these cells into IVD oocytes through Smad1/5/8 activation and transcriptional up-regulation of key meiosis-initiating genes.
    Fertility and sterility 08/2013; 100(5). DOI:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2013.07.1978 · 4.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Perform gene expression profiling of adult mouse ovary-derived oogonial stem cells (OSCs). Experimental animal study. Research laboratory. Adult C57BL/6 female mice. None. Gene expression profiles were compared between freshly isolated and cultured OSCs, as well as between OSCs and embryonic stem cells (ESCs), fetal primordial germ cells (PGCs), and spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs); OSC yield from ovaries versus meiotic gene activation during the estrous cycle was determined. Freshly isolated OSCs, PGCs, and SSCs exhibited distinct gene expression profiles. Cultured OSCs maintained their germline gene expression pattern but gained expression of pluripotency markers found in PGCs and ESCs. Cultured OSCs also expressed the meiotic marker, stimulated by retinoic acid gene 8 (Stra8). In vivo, OSC yield was higher from luteal versus follicular phase ovaries, and this was inversely related to Stra8 expression. Freshly isolated OSCs exhibit a germline gene expression profile that overlaps with, but is distinct from, that of PGCs and SSCs. After in vitro expansion, OSCs activate expression of pluripotency genes found in freshly isolated PGCs. In vivo, OSC numbers in the ovaries fluctuate during the estrous cycle, with the highest numbers noted during the luteal phase. This is followed by activation of Stra8 expression during the follicular phase, which may signify a wave of neo-oogenesis to partially offset follicular loss through atresia and ovulation in the prior cycle.
    Fertility and sterility 07/2013; 100(5). DOI:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2013.06.036 · 4.59 Impact Factor

  • Human Reproduction 06/2013; 28(suppl 1):i52-i55. DOI:10.1093/humrep/det165 · 4.57 Impact Factor
  • Source
    Jonathan L Tilly · David A Sinclair ·
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    ABSTRACT: The role of metabolism in ovarian aging is poorly described, despite the fact that ovaries fail earlier than most other organs. Growing interest in ovarian function is being driven by recent evidence that mammalian females routinely generate new oocytes during adult life through the activity of germline stem cells. In this perspective, we overview the female reproductive system as a powerful and clinically relevant model to understand links between aging and metabolism, and we discuss new concepts for how oocytes and their precursor cells might be altered metabolically to sustain or increase ovarian function and fertility in women.
    Cell metabolism 06/2013; 17(6):838-50. DOI:10.1016/j.cmet.2013.05.007 · 17.57 Impact Factor
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    Dori C Woods · Jonathan L Tilly ·
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    ABSTRACT: Accruing evidence indicates that production of new oocytes (oogenesis) and their enclosure by somatic cells (folliculogenesis) are processes not limited to the perinatal period in mammals. Endpoints ranging from oocyte counts to genetic lineage tracing and transplantation experiments support a paradigm shift in reproductive biology involving active renewal of oocyte-containing follicles during postnatal life. The recent purification of mitotically active oocyte progenitor cells, termed female germline stem cells (fGSCs) or oogonial stem cells (OSCs), from mouse and human ovaries opens up new avenues for research into the biology and clinical utility of these cells. Here we detail methods for the isolation of mouse and human OSCs from adult ovarian tissue, cultivation of the cells after purification, and characterization of the cells before and after ex vivo expansion. The latter methods include analysis of germ cell-specific markers and in vitro oogenesis, as well as the use of intraovarian transplantation to test the oocyte-forming potential of OSCs in vivo.
    Nature Protocol 04/2013; 8(5):966-988. DOI:10.1038/nprot.2013.047 · 9.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Differentiating embryonic stem cells (ESCs) can form ovarian follicle-like structures in vitro, consisting of an oocyte-like cell surrounded by somatic cells capable of steroidogenesis. Using a dual-fluorescence reporter system in which mouse ESCs express green fluorescent protein (GFP) under the control of a germ cell-specific Pou5f1 gene promoter and red fluorescent protein (Discosoma sp red [DsRed]) driven by the granulosa cell-specific Forkhead box L2 (Foxl2) gene promoter, we first confirmed in vitro formation of follicle-like structures containing GFP-positive cells surrounded by DsRed-positive cells. Isolated DsRed-positive cells specified from ECSs exhibited a gene expression profile consistent with granulosa cells, as revealed by the detection of messenger RNAs (mRNAs) for Foxl2, follistatin (Fst), anti-Müllerian hormone (Amh), and follicle-stimulating hormone receptor (Fshr) as well as by production of both progesterone and estradiol. In addition, treatment of isolated DsRed-expressing cells with follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) significantly increased estradiol production over basal levels, confirming the presence of functional FSH receptors in these cells. Last, ESC-derived DsRed-positive cells injected into neonatal mouse ovaries became incorporated within the granulosa cell layer of immature follicles. These studies demonstrate that Foxl2-expressing ovarian somatic cells derived in vitro from differentiating ESCs express granulosa cell markers, actively associate with germ cells in vitro, synthesize steroids, respond to FSH, and participate in folliculogenesis in vivo.
    Reproductive sciences (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) 03/2013; 20(5). DOI:10.1177/1933719113483017 · 2.23 Impact Factor
  • Eun-Sil Park · Dori C. Woods · Yvonne A. R. White · Jonathan L. Tilly ·

    60th Annual Scientific Meeting of the; 03/2013
  • Eun-Sil Park · Jonathan L. Tilly ·

    60th Annual Scientific Meeting of the; 03/2013
  • Dori C. Woods · Jonathan L. Tilly ·

    60th Annual Scientific Meeting of the; 03/2013
  • Dori C Woods · Jonathan L Tilly ·
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The concept that oogenesis continues into reproductive life has been well established in nonmammalian species. Recent studies of mice and women indicate that oocyte formation is also not, as traditionally believed, restricted to the fetal or perinatal periods. Analogous to de novo oocyte formation in flies and fish, newly formed oocytes in adult mammalian ovaries arise from germline stem cells (GSCs) or, more specifically, oogonial stem cells (OSCs). Studies of mice have confirmed that isolated OSCs, once delivered back into adult ovaries, are capable of generating fully functional eggs that fertilize to produce healthy embryos and offspring. Parallel studies of OSCs recently purified from ovaries of reproductive-age women indicate that these cells closely resemble their mouse ovary-derived counterparts, although the fertilization competency of oocytes generated by human OSCs awaits clarification. Despite the ability of OSCs to produce new oocytes during adulthood, oogenesis will still ultimately cease with age, contributing to ovarian failure. The causal mechanisms behind these events in mammals are unknown, but studies of flies have revealed that GSC niche dysfunction plays a critical role in age-related oogenic failure. Such insights derived from evaluation of nonmammalian species, in which postnatal oogenesis has been studied in depth, may aid in development of new strategies to alleviate ovarian failure and infertility in mammals.
    Seminars in Reproductive Medicine 01/2013; 31(1):24-32. DOI:10.1055/s-0032-1331794 · 2.35 Impact Factor
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    Dori C Woods · Yvonne A R White · Jonathan L Tilly ·
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    ABSTRACT: Contemporary claims that mitotically active female germ line or oogonial stem cells (OSCs) exist and support oogenesis during postnatal life in mammals have been debated in the field of reproductive biology since March 2004, when a mouse study posed the first serious challenge to the dogma of a fixed pool of oocytes being endowed at birth in more than 50 years. Other studies have since been put forth that further question the validity of this dogma, including the isolation of OSCs from neonatal and adult mouse ovaries by 4 independent groups using multiple strategies. Two of these groups also reported that isolated mouse OSCs, once transplanted back into ovaries of adult female mice, differentiate into fully functional eggs that ovulate, fertilize, and produce healthy embryos and offspring. Arguably, one of the most significant advances in this emerging field was provided by a new research study published this year, which reported the successful isolation and functional characterization of OSCs from ovaries of reproductive age women. Two commentaries on this latest work, one cautiously supportive and one highly skeptical, were published soon afterward. This article evaluates the current literature regarding postnatal oogenesis in mammals and discusses important next steps for future work on OSC biology and function.
    Reproductive sciences (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) 09/2012; 20(1). DOI:10.1177/1933719112462632 · 2.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Women approaching advanced maternal age have extremely poor outcomes with both natural and assisted fertility. Moreover, the incidence of chromosomal abnormalities and birth defects increases with age. As of yet, there is no effective and practical strategy for delaying ovarian aging or improving oocyte quality. We demonstrate that the lifelong consumption of a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids prolongs murine reproductive function into advanced maternal age, while a diet rich in omega-6 fatty acids is associated with very poor reproductive success at advanced maternal age. Furthermore, even short-term dietary treatment with a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids initiated at the time of the normal age-related rapid decline in murine reproductive function is associated with improved oocyte quality, while short-term dietary treatment with omega-6 fatty acids results in very poor oocyte quality. Thus, omega-3 fatty acids may provide an effective and practical avenue for delaying ovarian aging and improving oocyte quality at advanced maternal age.
    Aging cell 09/2012; 11(6). DOI:10.1111/acel.12006 · 6.34 Impact Factor
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    Dori C Woods · Evelyn E Telfer · Jonathan L Tilly ·

    PLoS Genetics 07/2012; 8(7):e1002848. DOI:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002848 · 7.53 Impact Factor
  • Dori C Woods · Jonathan L Tilly ·
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    ABSTRACT: Stem cell-based strategies for ovarian regeneration and oocyte production have been proposed as future clinical therapies for treating infertility in women. However, utilization of embryonic stem cells or induced pluripotent stem cells to produce oocytes has had limited success in vitro. A recent report of the isolation and characterization of endogenous oocyte-producing or oogonial stem cells (OSCs) from ovaries of reproductive age women describes the first stable and pure human female germ cell culture model in which a subset of cells appear to initiate and complete meiosis. In addition, purified human OSCs introduced into adult human ovarian cortical tissue generate oocytes that arrest at the diplotene stage of meiosis and successfully recruit granulosa cells to form new primordial follicles. This overview examines the current landscape of in vitro and in vivo gametogenesis from stem cells, with emphasis on generation of human oocytes. Future research objectives for this area of work, as well as potential clinical applications involving the use of human OSCs, are discussed.
    Fertility and sterility 06/2012; 98(1):3-10. DOI:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2012.05.005 · 4.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Germline stem cells that produce oocytes in vitro and fertilization-competent eggs in vivo have been identified in and isolated from adult mouse ovaries. Here we describe and validate a fluorescence-activated cell sorting-based protocol that can be used with adult mouse ovaries and human ovarian cortical tissue to purify rare mitotically active cells that have a gene expression profile that is consistent with primitive germ cells. Once established in vitro, these cells can be expanded for months and can spontaneously generate 35- to 50-μm oocytes, as determined by morphology, gene expression and haploid (1n) status. Injection of the human germline cells, engineered to stably express GFP, into human ovarian cortical biopsies leads to formation of follicles containing GFP-positive oocytes 1-2 weeks after xenotransplantation into immunodeficient female mice. Thus, ovaries of reproductive-age women, similar to adult mice, possess rare mitotically active germ cells that can be propagated in vitro as well as generate oocytes in vitro and in vivo.
    Nature medicine 02/2012; 18(3):413-21. DOI:10.1038/nm.2669 · 27.36 Impact Factor
  • R. A. R. White · D. C. Woods · Y. Takai · O. Ishihara · H. Seki · J. L. Tilly ·

    Fertility and Sterility 09/2011; 96(3). DOI:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2011.07.662 · 4.59 Impact Factor
  • A. N. Imudia · D. C. Woods · Y. A. R. White · J. L. Tilly ·

    Fertility and Sterility 09/2011; 96(3). DOI:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2011.07.403 · 4.59 Impact Factor
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    Kaisa Selesniemi · Ho-Joon Lee · Ailene Muhlhauser · Jonathan L Tilly ·
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    ABSTRACT: Increased meiotic spindle abnormalities and aneuploidy in oocytes of women of advanced maternal ages lead to elevated rates of infertility, miscarriage, and trisomic conceptions. Despite the significance of the problem, strategies to sustain oocyte quality with age have remained elusive. Here we report that adult female mice maintained under 40% caloric restriction (CR) did not exhibit aging-related increases in oocyte aneuploidy, chromosomal misalignment on the metaphase plate, meiotic spindle abnormalities, or mitochondrial dysfunction (aggregation, impaired ATP production), all of which occurred in oocytes of age-matched ad libitum-fed controls. The effects of CR on oocyte quality in aging females were reproduced by deletion of the metabolic regulator, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator-1α (PGC-1α). Thus, CR during adulthood or loss of PGC-1α function maintains female germline chromosomal stability and its proper segregation during meiosis, such that ovulated oocytes of aged female mice previously maintained on CR or lacking PGC-1α are comparable to those of young females during prime reproductive life.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 07/2011; 108(30):12319-24. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1018793108 · 9.67 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

12k Citations
1,107.17 Total Impact Points


  • 2013-2014
    • Northeastern University
      • Department of Biology
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1999-2013
    • Harvard University
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
    • University of Western Australia
      • School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology
      Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  • 1996-2012
    • Massachusetts General Hospital
      • • Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology
      • • Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1996-2011
    • Harvard Medical School
      • • Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology
      • • Department of Pathology
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1994-2004
    • Johns Hopkins University
      • Department of Gynecology & Obstetrics
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 2003
    • Boston University
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1997
    • University of Notre Dame
      • Department of Biological Sciences
      Indiana, PA, United States
  • 1992-1994
    • Stanford Medicine
      • Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
      Stanford, California, United States
    • Stanford University
      • Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
      Stanford, California, United States
  • 1988-1992
    • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
      • Department of Animal Sciences
      New Brunswick, NJ, United States