ResearchPad - genital-anatomy https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Sexual norms and the intention to use healthcare services related to female genital cutting: A qualitative study among Somali and Sudanese women in Norway]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_15732 Female Genital Cutting (FGC) is a traditionally meaningful practice in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. It is associated with a high risk of long-term physical and psychosexual health problems. Girls and women with FGC-related health problems need specialized healthcare services such as psychosexual counseling, deinfibulation, and clitoral reconstruction. Moreover, the need for psychosexual counseling increases in countries of immigration where FGC is not accepted and possibly stigmatized. In these countries, the practice loses its cultural meaning and girls and women with FGC are more likely to report psychosexual problems. In Norway, a country of immigration, psychosexual counseling is lacking. To decide whether to provide this and/or other services, it is important to explore the intention of the target population to use FGC-related healthcare services. That is as deinfibulation, an already available service, is underutilized. In this article, we explore whether girls and women with FGC intend to use FGC-related healthcare services, regardless of their availability in Norway.MethodsWe conducted 61 in-depth interviews with 26 Somali and Sudanese participants with FGC in Norway. We then validated our findings in three focus group discussions with additional 17 participants.FindingsWe found that most of our participants were positive towards psychosexual counseling and would use it if available. We also identified four cultural scenarios with different sets of sexual norms that centered on getting and/or staying married, and which largely influenced the participants’ intention to use FGC-related services. These cultural scenarios are the virgin, the passive-, the conditioned active-, and the equal- sexual partner scenarios. Participants with negative attitudes towards the use of almost all of the FGC-related healthcare services were influenced by a set of norms pertaining to virginity and passive sexual behavior. In contrast, participants with positive attitudes towards the use of all of these same services were influenced by another set of norms pertaining to sexual and gender equality. On the other hand, participants with positive attitudes towards the use of services that can help to improve their marital sexual lives, yet negative towards the use of premarital services were influenced by a third set of norms that combined norms from the two aforementioned sets of norms.ConclusionThe intention to use FGC-related healthcare services varies between and within the different ethnic groups. Moreover, the same girl or woman can have different attitudes towards the use of the different FGC-related healthcare services or even towards the same services at the different stages of her life. These insights could prove valuable for Norwegian and other policy-makers and healthcare professionals during the planning and/or delivery of FGC-related healthcare services. ]]> <![CDATA[Deletion of inositol polyphosphate 4-phosphatase type-II B affects spermatogenesis in mice]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14722 Inositol polyphosphate-4-phosphatase type II (INPP4B) is a dual-specificity phosphatase that acts as a tumor suppressor in multiple cancers. INPP4B dephosphorylates phospholipids at the 4th position of the inositol ring and inhibits AKT and PKC signaling by hydrolyzing of PI(3,4)P2 and PI(4,5)P2, respectively. INPP4B protein phosphatase targets include phospho-tyrosines on Akt and phospho-serine and phospho-threonine on PTEN. INPP4B is highly expressed in testes, suggesting its role in testes development and physiology. The objective of this study was to determine whether Inpp4b deletion impacts testicular function in mice. In testis, Inpp4b expression was the highest in postmeiotic germ cells in both mice and men. The testes of Inpp4b knockout male mice were significantly smaller compared to the testes of wild-type (WT) males. Inpp4b-/- males produced fewer mature sperm cells compared to WT, and this difference increased with age and high fat diet (HFD). Reduction in early steroidogenic enzymes and luteinizing hormone (LH) receptor gene expression was detected, although androgen receptor (AR) protein level was similar in WT and Inpp4b-/- testes. Germ cell apoptosis was significantly increased in the knockout mice, while expression of meiotic marker γH2A.X was decreased. Our data demonstrate that INPP4B plays a role in maintenance of male germ cell differentiation and protects testis functions against deleterious effects of aging and high fat diet.

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<![CDATA[SYGL-1 and LST-1 link niche signaling to PUF RNA repression for stem cell maintenance in Caenorhabditis elegans]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5ab4e873463d7e0cbd0422dd

Central questions in regenerative biology include how stem cells are maintained and how they transition from self-renewal to differentiation. Germline stem cells (GSCs) in Caeno-rhabditis elegans provide a tractable in vivo model to address these questions. In this system, Notch signaling and PUF RNA binding proteins, FBF-1 and FBF-2 (collectively FBF), maintain a pool of GSCs in a naïve state. An open question has been how Notch signaling modulates FBF activity to promote stem cell self-renewal. Here we report that two Notch targets, SYGL-1 and LST-1, link niche signaling to FBF. We find that SYGL-1 and LST-1 proteins are cytoplasmic and normally restricted to the GSC pool region. Increasing the distribution of SYGL-1 expands the pool correspondingly, and vast overexpression of either SYGL-1 or LST-1 generates a germline tumor. Thus, SYGL-1 and LST-1 are each sufficient to drive “stemness” and their spatial restriction prevents tumor formation. Importantly, SYGL-1 and LST-1 can only drive tumor formation when FBF is present. Moreover, both proteins interact physically with FBF, and both are required to repress a signature FBF mRNA target. Together, our results support a model in which SYGL-1 and LST-1 form a repressive complex with FBF that is crucial for stem cell maintenance. We further propose that progression from a naïve stem cell state to a state primed for differentiation relies on loss of SYGL-1 and LST-1, which in turn relieves FBF target RNAs from repression. Broadly, our results provide new insights into the link between niche signaling and a downstream RNA regulatory network and how this circuitry governs the balance between self-renewal and differentiation.

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<![CDATA[Reproductive life-history strategies in a species-rich assemblage of Amazonian electric fishes]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N810c6abb-a507-4d5b-89ae-f4ccddeb69e1

The reproductive biology of only a small fraction of Neotropical freshwater fishes has been described, and detailed comparative studies of reproductive life-history variation in the Neotropical ichthyofauna are lacking. Here we describe interspecific variation in reproductive life history for a multi-species assemblage of the electric knifefish genus Brachyhypopomus (Hypopomidae: Gymnotiformes: Ostariophysi) from Amazonian floodplain and terra firme stream systems. During a year-round quantitative sampling program, we collected and measured key life-history traits from 3,410 individuals. Based on oocyte size distributions, and on circannual variation in gonadosomatic indices, hepatosomatic indices, and capture-per-unit-effort abundance of reproductive adults, we concluded that all species exhibit a single protracted annual breeding season during which females spawn fractionally. We found small clusters of post-larval individuals in one floodplain species and one terra firme stream species, but no signs of parental care. From analyses of body size-frequency distributions and otolith growth increments, we concluded that five species in our study area have approximately one-year (annual) semelparous life history with a single reproductive period followed by death, while two species have a two-year iteroparous life history, with breeding in both year-groups. Despite predictions from life-history theory we found no salient correlations between life history strategy (semelparity or iteroparity) and habitat occupancy (floodplain or terra firme stream). In the iteroparous species B. beebei, we documented evidence for reproductive restraint in the first breeding season relative to the second breeding season and argue that this is consistent with age-regulated terminal investment.

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<![CDATA[Drosophila melanogaster tPlus3a and tPlus3b ensure full male fertility by regulating transcription of Y-chromosomal, seminal fluid, and heat shock genes]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8accf0d5eed0c48499037d

Spermatogenesis in Drosophila melanogaster is characterized by a specific transcriptional program during the spermatocyte stage. Transcription of thousands of genes is regulated by the interaction of several proteins or complexes, including a tTAF-containing TFIID variant, tMAC, Mediator, and chromatin interactors, e.g., bromodomain proteins. We addressed how distinct subsets of target genes are selected. We characterized the highly similar proteins tPlus3a and tPlus3b, which contain a Plus3 domain and are enriched in the testis, mainly in spermatocytes. In tPlus3a and tplus3b deletion mutants generated using the CRISPR/Cas9 system, fertility was severely reduced and sperm showed defects during individualization. tPlus3a and tPlus3b heterodimerized with the bromodomain protein tBRD-1. To elucidate the role of the tPlus3a and tPlus3b proteins in transcriptional regulation, we determined the transcriptomes of tplus3a-tplus3b and tbrd-1 deletion mutants using next-generation sequencing (RNA-seq) and compared them to that of the wild-type. tPlus3a and tPlus3b positively or negatively regulated the expression of nearly 400 genes; tBRD-1 regulated 1,500 genes. Nearly 200 genes were regulated by both tPlus3a and tPlus3b and tBRD-1. tPlus3a and tPlus3b activated the Y-chromosomal genes kl-3 and kl-5, which indicates that tPlus3a and tPlus3b proteins are required for the function of distinct classes of genes. tPlus3a and tPlus3b and tBRD-1 repress genes relevant for seminal fluid and heat shock. We hypothesize that tPlus3a and tPlus3b proteins are required to specify the general transcriptional program in spermatocytes.

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<![CDATA[A DNA repair protein and histone methyltransferase interact to promote genome stability in the Caenorhabditis elegans germ line]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c79a3e8d5eed0c4841d1c27

Histone modifications regulate gene expression and chromosomal events, yet how histone-modifying enzymes are targeted is poorly understood. Here we report that a conserved DNA repair protein, SMRC-1, associates with MET-2, the C. elegans histone methyltransferase responsible for H3K9me1 and me2 deposition. We used molecular, genetic, and biochemical methods to investigate the biological role of SMRC-1 and to explore its relationship with MET-2. SMRC-1, like its mammalian ortholog SMARCAL1, provides protection from DNA replication stress. SMRC-1 limits accumulation of DNA damage and promotes germline and embryonic viability. MET-2 and SMRC-1 localize to mitotic and meiotic germline nuclei, and SMRC-1 promotes an increase in MET-2 abundance in mitotic germline nuclei upon replication stress. In the absence of SMRC-1, germline H3K9me2 generally decreases after multiple generations at high culture temperature. Genetic data are consistent with MET-2 and SMRC-1 functioning together to limit replication stress in the germ line and in parallel to promote other germline processes. We hypothesize that loss of SMRC-1 activity causes chronic replication stress, in part because of insufficient recruitment of MET-2 to nuclei.

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<![CDATA[FBXO7 sensitivity of phenotypic traits elucidated by a hypomorphic allele]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c89776ad5eed0c4847d2c3f

FBXO7 encodes an F box containing protein that interacts with multiple partners to facilitate numerous cellular processes and has a canonical role as part of an SCF E3 ubiquitin ligase complex. Mutation of FBXO7 is responsible for an early onset Parkinsonian pyramidal syndrome and genome-wide association studies have linked variants in FBXO7 to erythroid traits. A putative orthologue in Drosophila, nutcracker, has been shown to regulate the proteasome, and deficiency of nutcracker results in male infertility. Therefore, we reasoned that modulating Fbxo7 levels in a murine model could provide insights into the role of this protein in mammals. We used a targeted gene trap model which retained 4–16% residual gene expression and assessed the sensitivity of phenotypic traits to gene dosage. Fbxo7 hypomorphs showed regenerative anaemia associated with a shorter erythrocyte half-life, and male mice were infertile. Alterations to T cell phenotypes were also observed, which intriguingly were both T cell intrinsic and extrinsic. Hypomorphic mice were also sensitive to infection with Salmonella, succumbing to a normally sublethal challenge. Despite these phenotypes, Fbxo7 hypomorphs were produced at a normal Mendelian ratio with a normal lifespan and no evidence of neurological symptoms. These data suggest that erythrocyte survival, T cell development and spermatogenesis are particularly sensitive to Fbxo7 gene dosage.

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<![CDATA[Heterochrony of puberty in the European badger (Meles meles) can be explained by growth rate and group-size: Evidence for two endocrinological phenotypes]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c897769d5eed0c4847d2c1b

Puberty is a key stage in mammalian ontogeny, involving endocrinological, physiological and behavioural changes, moderated by intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Thus, not all individuals within one population achieve sexual maturity simultaneously. Here, using the European badger (Meles meles) as a model, we describe male testosterone and female oestrone profiles (using Enzyme-immunoassays) from first capture (3 months, post-weaning) until 28 months (attaining sexual maturity and final body size), along with metrics of somatic growth, scent gland development and maturation of external reproductive organs as well as intra-specific competition. In both sexes, endocrinological puberty commenced at ca. 11 months. Thereafter, cub hormone levels followed adult seasonal hormone patterns but at lower levels, with the majority of cubs reaching sexual maturity during their second mating season (22–28 months). Interestingly, there was evidence for two endocrinological phenotypes among male cubs (less evident in females), with early developers reaching sexual maturity at 11 months (first mating season) and late developers reaching sexual maturity at 22–26 months (second mating season). Early developers also attained a greater proportion of their ultimate adult size by 11 months, exhibiting faster growth rates than late developers (despite having similar adult size). Male cubs born into larger social groups tended to follow the late developer phenotype. Our results support the hypothesis that a minimum body size is required to reach sexual maturity, which may be achieved at different ages, even within a single population, where early maturity can confer individual fitness advantages and enhance population growth rate.

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<![CDATA[Dual role of DMXL2 in olfactory information transmission and the first wave of spermatogenesis]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6730a1d5eed0c484f37e0e

Gonad differentiation is a crucial step conditioning the future fertility of individuals and most of the master genes involved in this process have been investigated in detail. However, transcriptomic analyses of developing gonads from different animal models have revealed that hundreds of genes present sexually dimorphic expression patterns. DMXL2 was one of these genes and its function in mammalian gonads was unknown. We therefore investigated the phenotypes of total and gonad-specific Dmxl2 knockout mouse lines. The total loss-of-function of Dmxl2 was lethal in neonates, with death occurring within 12 hours of birth. Dmxl2-knockout neonates were weak and did not feed. They also presented defects of olfactory information transmission and severe hypoglycemia, suggesting that their premature death might be due to global neuronal and/or metabolic deficiencies. Dmxl2 expression in the gonads increased after birth, during follicle formation in females and spermatogenesis in males. DMXL2 was detected in both the supporting and germinal cells of both sexes. As Dmxl2 loss-of-function was lethal, only limited investigations of the gonads of Dmxl2 KO pups were possible. They revealed no major defects at birth. The gonadal function of Dmxl2 was then assessed by conditional deletions of the gene in gonadal supporting cells, germinal cells, or both. Conditional Dmxl2 ablation in the gonads did not impair fertility in males or females. By contrast, male mice with Dmxl2 deletions, either throughout the testes or exclusively in germ cells, presented a subtle testicular phenotype during the first wave of spermatogenesis that was clearly detectable at puberty. Indeed, Dmxl2 loss-of-function throughout the testes or in germ cells only, led to sperm counts more than 60% lower than normal and defective seminiferous tubule architecture. Transcriptomic and immunohistochemichal analyses on these abnormal testes revealed a deregulation of Sertoli cell phagocytic activity related to germ cell apoptosis augmentation. In conclusion, we show that Dmxl2 exerts its principal function in the testes at the onset of puberty, although its absence does not compromise male fertility in mice.

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<![CDATA[Experimental Zika virus infection of Jamaican fruit bats (Artibeus jamaicensis) and possible entry of virus into brain via activated microglial cells]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c61e905d5eed0c48496f66d

The emergence of Zika virus (ZIKV) in the New World has led to more than 200,000 human infections. Perinatal infection can cause severe neurological complications, including fetal and neonatal microcephaly, and in adults there is an association with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). ZIKV is transmitted to humans by Aedes sp. mosquitoes, yet little is known about its enzootic cycle in which transmission is thought to occur between arboreal Aedes sp. mosquitos and non-human primates. In the 1950s and ‘60s, several bat species were shown to be naturally and experimentally susceptible to ZIKV with acute viremia and seroconversion, and some developed neurological disease with viral antigen detected in the brain. Because of ZIKV emergence in the Americas, we sought to determine susceptibility of Jamaican fruit bats (Artibeus jamaicensis), one of the most common bats in the New World. Bats were inoculated with ZIKV PRVABC59 but did not show signs of disease. Bats held to 28 days post-inoculation (PI) had detectable antibody by ELISA and viral RNA was detected by qRT-PCR in the brain, saliva and urine in some of the bats. Immunoreactivity using polyclonal anti-ZIKV antibody was detected in testes, brain, lung and salivary glands plus scrotal skin. Tropism for mononuclear cells, including macrophages/microglia and fibroblasts, was seen in the aforementioned organs in addition to testicular Leydig cells. The virus likely localized to the brain via infection of Iba1+ macrophage/microglial cells. Jamaican fruit bats, therefore, may be a useful animal model for the study of ZIKV infection. This work also raises the possibility that bats may have a role in Zika virus ecology in endemic regions, and that ZIKV may pose a wildlife disease threat to bat populations.

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<![CDATA[Dual functions for the ssDNA-binding protein RPA in meiotic recombination]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c61e915d5eed0c48496f7c4

Meiotic recombination permits exchange of genetic material between homologous chromosomes. The replication protein A (RPA) complex, the predominant ssDNA-binding complex, is required for nearly all aspects of DNA metabolism, but its role in mammalian meiotic recombination remains unknown due to the embryonic lethality of RPA mutant mice. RPA is a heterotrimer of RPA1, RPA2, and RPA3. We find that loss of RPA1, the largest subunit, leads to disappearance of RPA2 and RPA3, resulting in the absence of the RPA complex. Using an inducible germline-specific inactivation strategy, we find that loss of RPA completely abrogates loading of RAD51/DMC1 recombinases to programmed meiotic DNA double strand breaks, thus blocking strand invasion required for chromosome pairing and synapsis. Surprisingly, loading of MEIOB, SPATA22, and ATR to DNA double strand breaks is RPA-independent and does not promote RAD51/DMC1 recruitment in the absence of RPA. Finally, inactivation of RPA reduces crossover formation. Our results demonstrate that RPA plays two distinct roles in meiotic recombination: an essential role in recombinase recruitment at early stages and an important role in promoting crossover formation at later stages.

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<![CDATA[Regional variability in reproductive traits of the Acropora hyacinthus species complex in the Western Pacific Region]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c59fea9d5eed0c4841352b0

Understanding natural variations in the life history traits of reef-building corals under different environmental conditions is an area of active research. This study compares variability in the reproductive and genetic traits of the hermaphroditic broadcast spawning coral Acropora hyacinthus, from the Western Pacific Region, across six different latitudes [Japan (33° and 31°N), Taiwan (23°, 22° and 21°N), and Indonesia (5°S)]. Egg sizes among corals in the lowest latitude studied were significantly larger than those at high latitudes, while the mean number of eggs were significantly different only among high latitude and two out of the three mid latitude locations studied. Egg numbers were significantly negatively correlated with egg and testis volumes, indicating reproductive trade-offs across locations. Female gonad volumes were smaller at high latitudes but significantly larger at lower latitudes, being positively correlated with seawater temperatures. Furthermore, high genetic similarities among populations suggest active gene flow among low-, mid- and high-latitude locations. An exception to this trend, the mid-latitude location of Penghu (off western Taiwan) formed an independent group with highly similar genetic and reproductive traits, suggesting reproductive isolation with local adaptations. This study reports natural spatial variations in the reproductive traits of A. hyacinthus at different latitudinal locations, which may serve as baseline information to predict how the life histories of corals in general respond to the impacts of climate change.

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<![CDATA[Identification of the X-linked germ cell specific miRNAs (XmiRs) and their functions]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5df340d5eed0c484580ff5

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play a critical role in multiple aspects of biology. Dicer, an RNase III endonuclease, is essential for the biogenesis of miRNAs, and the germ cell-specific Dicer1 knockout mouse shows severe defects in gametogenesis. How miRNAs regulate germ cell development is still not fully understood. In this study, we identified germ cell-specific miRNAs (miR-741-3p, miR-871-3p, miR-880-3p) by analyzing published RNA-seq data of mouse. These miRNA genes are contiguously located on the X chromosome near other miRNA genes. We named them X chromosome-linked miRNAs (XmiRs). To elucidate the functions of XmiRs, we generated knockout mice of these miRNA genes using the CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing system. Although no histological abnormalities were observed in testes of F0 mice in which each miRNA gene was disrupted, a deletion covering miR-871 and miR-880 or covering all XmiRs (ΔXmiRs) resulted in arrested spermatogenesis in meiosis in a few seminiferous tubules, indicating their redundant functions in spermatogenesis. Among candidate targets of XmiRs, we found increased expression of a gene encoding a WNT receptor, FZD4, in ΔXmiRs testis compared with that in wildtype testis. miR-871-3p and miR-880-3p repressed the expression of Fzd4 via the 3′-untranslated region of its mRNA. In addition, downstream genes of the WNT/β-catenin pathway were upregulated in ΔXmiRs testis. We also found that miR-871, miR-880, and Fzd4 were expressed in spermatogonia, spermatocytes and spermatids, and overexpression of miR-871 and miR-880 in germ stem cells in culture repressed their increase in number and Fzd4 expression. Previous studies indicated that the WNT/β-catenin pathway enhances and represses proliferation and differentiation of spermatogonia, respectively, and our results consistently showed that stable β-catenin enhanced GSC number. In addition, stable β-catenin partially rescued reduced GSC number by overexpression of miR-871 and miR-880. The results together suggest that miR-871 and miR-880 cooperatively regulate the WNT/β-catenin pathway during testicular germ cell development.

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<![CDATA[Sexual system, reproductive cycle and embryonic development of the red-striped shrimp Lysmata vittata, an invader in the western Atlantic Ocean]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c478c82d5eed0c484bd2c2a

Several decapod crustaceans are invaders, but little is known about the biological characteristics that potentiate the success of these decapods in invaded ecosystems. Here, we evaluate and describe some aspects of the reproductive biology and development of Lysmata vittata, an invasive shrimp species in the Atlantic Ocean. In addition, we intend to provide important insights into the biology of invasion by comparing the reproductive traits of this shrimp with some of the predictions about aquatic invasive species. We used experimental and laboratory observations to evaluate the functionality of protandric simultaneous hermaphroditism (PSH), the macro and microscopic development of the ovarian portion of the ovotestes, the reproductive cycle, and the embryonic development of L. vittata. We confirm the functionality of PSH in L. vittata. This shrimp has a rapid reproductive cycle; the ovarian portion of the ovotestes develops (mean ± SD) 6.28 ± 1.61 days after spawning. Embryonic development also occurs over a short time, with a mean (± SD) of 8.37 ± 0.85 days. The larvae hatch without macroscopically visible yolk reserves. Our study provides evidence that the invasive shrimp L. vittata has reproductive and embryonic developmental characteristics (i.e., short generation time and high reproductive capacity) that may be favorable to the establishment of populations during invasive processes.

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<![CDATA[Reproduction and population structure of the sea urchin Heliocidaris crassispina in its newly extended range: The Oga Peninsula in the Sea of Japan, northeastern Japan]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c36680ed5eed0c4841a6fa6

Ocean warming has facilitated the range expansion of commercially important sea urchin species to higher latitudes. Heliocidaris crassispina was recorded to extend northward to Toga Bay along the Oga Peninsula, Japan following an increase in seawater temperatures, and replacement of local sea urchin species Mesocentrotus nudus. In order to identify evidence of adaptation occurring in response to a range extension of H. crassispina to the newly extended environments, we randomly collected 106 H. crassispina in August 2014 in Toga Bay, determined the growth and age composition and examined gonad traits (size, color and development). To confirm the gonad development, 30 H. crassispina with > 30 mm diameter were collected in July, August and September 2017. We found slower growth in the extended range than the central range. More delayed gonad development of males than those of females and a large variety of developmental stages in the acini of testis indicated that the spawning of both sexes of the sea urchins were asynchronous. In terms of gonad color, L* (lightness) values increased with increasing GI, while b* (yellowness) values decreased with increasing age. The population consisted of seven year-classes from 2006 to 2012, suggesting persistent juvenile recruitment. Long-term water temperature data indicated that the range extension of H. crassispina was due to ocean warming, in particular during the summer spawning season.

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<![CDATA[Neurofibromin haploinsufficiency results in altered spermatogenesis in a mouse model of neurofibromatosis type 1]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c25455ad5eed0c48442c5ac

The fertility of men with neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1) is reduced. Despite this observation, gonadal function has not been examined in patients with NF1. In order to assess the role of reduced neurofibromin in the testes, we examined testicular morphology and function in an Nf1+/- mouse model. We found that although Nf1+/- male mice are able to reproduce, they have significantly fewer pups per litter than Nf1+/+ control males. Reduced fertility in Nf1+/- male mice is associated with disorganization of the seminiferous epithelium, with exfoliation of germ cells and immature spermatids into the tubule lumen. Morphometric analysis shows that these alterations are associated with decreased Leydig cell numbers and increased spermatid cell numbers. We hypothesized that hyper-activation of Ras in Nf1+/- males affects ectoplasmic specialization, a Sertoli-spermatid adherens junction involved in spermiation. Consistent with this idea, we found increased expression of phosphorylated ERK, a downstream effector of Ras that has been shown to alter ectoplasmic specialization, in Nf1+/- males in comparison to control Nf1+/+ littermates. These data demonstrate that neurofibromin haploinsufficiency impairs spermatogenesis and fertility in a mouse model of NF1.

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<![CDATA[New insights of polyamine metabolism in testicular physiology: A role of ornithine decarboxylase antizyme inhibitor 2 (AZIN2) in the modulation of testosterone levels and sperm motility]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c23f275d5eed0c484046c9b

The specific role of polyamines in the testis physiology is not fully understood. Antizymes (OAZs) and antizyme inhibitors (AZINs) are modulators of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC), a key enzyme in polyamine biosynthesis and polyamine uptake. Although the three known OAZs are expressed in the testis, only OAZ3 is testis specific and has been proven to have an essential role in male fertility. Regarding the two existing AZINs, AZIN2 is the most abundantly expressed member in this gonad. Whereas previous studies suggested that AZIN2 might participate in mouse spermatogenesis, immunohistological analysis of human testicular sections revealed that AZIN2 is also detected in the steroidogenic Leydig cells but not in the germinal epithelium. In the present study, we found a close ontogenic similarity in the mRNA levels of OAZs and AZINs between mice and rats, but an opposite expression pattern of ODC activity. Further analysis of AZIN2 and OAZ3 in the testis of mice with different alterations in spermatogenesis and fertility, induced either genetically or pharmacologically, corroborated that both AZIN2 and OAZ3 are mainly expressed in the haploid germinal cells. Finally, by using transgenic mice with a truncated Azin2 gene fused to the bacterial lacZ gene, we studied the expression of Azin2 in testes, epididymides and spermatozoa. AZIN2 was detected in spermatids and spermatozoa, as well as in Leydig cells, and in epithelial epidydimal cells. Azin2 knock-out male mice were fertile; however, they showed marked decreases in testicular putrescine and plasma and testicular testosterone levels, and a dramatic reduction in the sperm motility. These results suggest an important role for AZIN2 in testicular cells by modulating polyamine concentrations, testosterone synthesis and sperm function. Overall, our data corroborate the relevance of polyamine regulation in testis functions, where both AZIN2 and OAZ3 play fundamental roles.

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<![CDATA[Lack of NWC protein (c11orf74 homolog) in murine spermatogenesis results in reduced sperm competitiveness and impaired ability to fertilize egg cells in vitro]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c12cf4fd5eed0c484914366

NWC is an uncharacterised protein containing three strongly conserved domains not found in any other known protein. Previously, we reported that the NWC protein is detected in cells in the germinal layer in murine testes (strain: C57BL/6), and its knockout results in no obvious phenotype. We determined the NWC expression pattern during spermatogenesis, and found this protein in spermatocytes and round spermatids, but not in epididymal sperm. Although NWC knockout males are fertile, we further characterised their reproductive potential employing non-standard mating that better simulates the natural conditions by including sperm competition. Such an approach revealed that the sperm of knockout males fail to successfully compete with control sperm. After analysing selected characteristics of the male reproductive system, we found that NWC knockout sperm had a reduced ability to fertilize cumulus-intact eggs during IVF. This is the first report describing a subtle phenotype of NWC knockout mice that could be detected under non-standard mating conditions. Our results indicate that NWC plays an important role in spermatogenesis and its deficiency results in the production of functionally impaired sperm.

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<![CDATA[Trypanosoma brucei triggers a marked immune response in male reproductive organs]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5b8acde140307c144d0de053

African trypanosomiasis is caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma brucei, transmitted between mammals by the bite of a tsetse. It has been recently shown that parasites accumulate in large numbers in various organs and tissues, including the mouse testis. Whether parasites are protected from the immune system in the male reproductive organ or can be transmitted through sexual route remains unknown. Here we show that parasites can be detected by fine needle aspiration cytology of the male reproductive system in mice, and histopathological analysis revealed that T. brucei accumulates in the stroma of the epididymis, epididymal adipose tissue and fibrous tunics of the testis. No parasites were found in the lumen of intact epididymal ducts or seminiferous tubules of the testis, indicating that the large majority of the parasites are not located in immune-privileged sites. In fact, these parasites are associated with marked inflammatory cell infiltration, parasite degeneration, and severe tissue damage and rupture of epididymal ducts, which may be related with reduced fertility. Overall, we show that just like in the bloodstream and most other tissues, in the male reproductive organs, T. brucei are exposed to a strong immune response. The detection of a very high number of parasites in this organ and its accessibility opens the possibility of using fine needle aspiration cytology as a complementary diagnostic tool in Animal African Trypanosomiasis.

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<![CDATA[Loss of connexin43 in murine Sertoli cells and its effect on blood-testis barrier formation and dynamics]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5b5acfc8463d7e11b9cf6300

Connexin43 (Cx43) is the predominant testicular gap junction protein and in cases of impaired spermatogenesis, Cx43 expression has been shown to be altered in several mammals. Amongst other functions, Cx43 is supposed to regulate junction formation of the blood-testis barrier (BTB). The aim of the present study was to investigate the expression pattern of different tight junction (TJ) proteins of the murine BTB using SC-specific Cx43 knockout mice (SCCx43KO). Adult homozygous male SCCx43KO mice (SCCx43KO-/-) predominantly show an arrest of spermatogenesis and SC-only tubules that might have been caused by an altered BTB assembly, composition or regulation. TJ molecules claudin-3, -5 and -11 were examined in adult wild type (WT) and SCCx43KO-/- mice using immunohistochemistry (IHC) and quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR). In this context, investigation of single tubules with residual spermatogenesis in SCCx43KO-/- mice was particularly interesting to identify a potential Cx43-independent influence of germ cells (GC) on BTB composition and dynamics. In tubules without residual spermatogenesis, a diffuse cytoplasmic distribution pattern for claudin-11 protein could be demonstrated in mutant mice. Nevertheless, claudin-11 seems to form functional TJ. Claudin-3 and -5 could not be detected immunohistochemically in the seminiferous epithelium of those tubules. Correspondingly, claudin-3 and -5 mRNA expression was decreased, providing evidence of generally impaired BTB dynamics in adult KO mice. Observations of tubules with residual spermatogenesis suggested a Cx43-independent regulation of TJ proteins by GC populations. To determine initial BTB formation in peripubertal SCCx43KO-/- mice, immunohistochemical staining and qRT-PCR of claudin-11 were carried out in adolescent SCCx43KO-/- and WT mice. Additionally, BTB integrity was functionally analysed using a hypertonic glucose fixative. These analyses revealed that SCCx43KO-/- mice formed an intact BTB during puberty in the same time period as WT mice, which however seemed to be accelerated.

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