ResearchPad - germ-cells https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![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[Single-cell transcription analysis of <i>Plasmodium vivax</i> blood-stage parasites identifies stage- and species-specific profiles of expression]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14651 Analysis of individual Plasmodium vivax parasites reveals the tight control of the expression of most genes during the intra-erythrocytic cycle and the differentiation of male and female gametocytes, and highlights differences between the development of P. vivax and P. falciparum.

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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[Distinctive single-channel properties of α4β2-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor isoforms]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8acc7cd5eed0c48498f842

Central nervous system nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR) are predominantly of the α4β2 subtype. Two isoforms exist, with high or low agonist sensitivity (HS-(α4β2)2β2- and LS-(α4β2)2α4-nAChR). Both isoforms exhibit similar macroscopic potency and efficacy values at low acetylcholine (ACh) concentrations, mediated by a common pair of high-affinity α4(+)/(-)β2 subunit binding interfaces. However LS-(α4β2)2α4-nAChR also respond to higher concentrations of ACh, acting at a third α4(+)/(-)α4 subunit interface. To probe isoform functional differences further, HS- and LS-α4β2-nAChR were expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes and single-channel responses were assessed using cell-attached patch-clamp. In the presence of a low ACh concentration, both isoforms produce low-bursting function. HS-(α4β2)2β2-nAChR exhibit a single conductance state, whereas LS-(α4β2)2α4-nAChR display two distinctive conductance states. A higher ACh concentration did not preferentially recruit either conductance state, but did result in increased LS-(α4β2)2α4-nAChR bursting and reduced closed times. Introduction of an α4(+)/(-)α4-interface loss-of-function α4W182A mutation abolished these changes, confirming this site’s role in mediating LS-(α4β2)2α4-nAChR responses. Small or large amplitude openings are highly-correlated within individual LS-(α4β2)2α4-nAChR bursts, suggesting that they arise from distinct intermediate states, each of which is stabilized by α4(+)/(-)α4 site ACh binding. These findings are consistent with α4(+)/(-)α4 subunit interface occupation resulting in allosteric potentiation of agonist actions at α4(+)/(-)β2 subunit interfaces, rather than independent induction of high conductance channel openings.

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<![CDATA[Effects of highly active antiretroviral therapy on semen parameters of a cohort of 770 HIV-1 infected men]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c78500cd5eed0c484007bb8

Background

HIV-1 infected patients show impaired semen parameters. Currently, it is not clear whether HIV-1 infection itself or antiretroviral therapy have an effect on semen parameters. We aim evaluate semen quality in a large cohort of fertile HIV-1 infected men under stable highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and to assess the effect of HAART type and duration on semen parameters.

Materials and methods

Between January 2010 and June 2014, we enrolled in a retrospective case-control study 770 HIV-1 patients under stable HAART asking a reproductive counselling with their HIV negative partner. Co-infections with HBV or HCV, genital tract infections and known causes of infertility represented exclusion criteria. Semen samples were analysed and compared with the WHO reference values. A multivariate analysis including HAART type and duration, age, viral load and CD4 count, was performed on 600 patients out of 770.

Results

The median values of all semen parameters were significantly lower among HIV-1 infected patients compared to the WHO reference group, with a significant proportion of patients having values below the 5th percentile of the WHO reference value. In a multivariate analysis, only age and viral load negatively impacted progressive motility (β -0.3 (95% CI: -0.5; -0.0) %, p<0.05) and semen morphology (β -0.00 (95% CI: -0.00; -0.00) %, p≤0.01), while no associations were detected as regards HAART type and duration.

Conclusions

HIV-1 infected patients showed a significant impairment of semen parameters compared to the reference values. HAART type and duration showed no associations with semen quality. Further research is needed to investigate implications for clinical care of HIV infected men desiring a child.

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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[Epigenome-wide analysis of sperm cells identifies IL22 as a possible germ line risk locus for psoriatic arthritis]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c75ac57d5eed0c484d085ff

Psoriasis and its associated inflammatory arthritis, psoriatic arthritis (PsA), have a clear heritable component, but a large proportion of the heritable risk remains unexplained by gene sequence variation. This study aimed to determine if epigenetic factors contribute to the missing heritability in psoriatic disease. DNA methylation profiling was performed on sperm cells from 23 probands with psoriasis without PsA (PsC), 13 PsA probands, and 18 unaffected controls. Differentially methylated CpGs and regions (DMRs) were identified and validated by pyrosequencing. Underlying AluY and copy number variation (CNV) in the HCG26 and IL22 genes, respectively, were assessed by genotyping. Array, subject’s age, age of psoriasis onset, psoriasis severity, and medication usage were found to influence methylation at many genes and were included as covariates in the analysis. Between PsC probands vs. controls, 169 DMRs were found; 754 DMRs were found between PsA probands vs. controls, and 86 between PsA and PsC probands (adjusted p<0.05). Differences in methylation across DMRs were generally subtle (<10%) but correlated well with pyrosequencing. Biological inference prioritized notable DMRs associated with skin disease (SIGLEC14, JAM3, PCOLCE, RXRB), skin and/or joint disease (MBP, OSBPL5, SNORD115, HCG26), and joint disease (IL22, ELF5, PPP2R2D, PTPRN2, HCG26). Hypermethylation of the DMR within the first exon of arthritis-associated IL22 showed significant correlation (rho = 0.34, 95% CI 0.06–0.57, p = 0.01) between paired sperm and blood samples, independent of a CNV within the same region. Further studies are needed to rule out underlying genetic causes and determine if these represent heritable, constitutional epimutations, or are the result of exposure of germ cells to endogenous or exogenous environmental factors.

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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[Epigenetic inheritance of telomere length in wild birds]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6f14b0d5eed0c48467a620

Telomere length (TL) predicts health and survival across taxa. Variation in TL between individuals is thought to be largely of genetic origin, but telomere inheritance is unusual, because zygotes already express a TL phenotype, the TL of the parental gametes. Offspring TL changes with paternal age in many species including humans, presumably through age-related TL changes in sperm, suggesting an epigenetic inheritance mechanism. However, present evidence is based on cross-sectional analyses, and age at reproduction is confounded with between-father variation in TL. Furthermore, the quantitative importance of epigenetic TL inheritance is unknown. Using longitudinal data of free-living jackdaws Corvus monedula, we show that erythrocyte TL of subsequent offspring decreases with parental age within individual fathers, but not mothers. By cross-fostering eggs, we confirmed the paternal age effect to be independent of paternal age dependent care. Epigenetic inheritance accounted for a minimum of 34% of the variance in offspring TL that was explained by paternal TL. This is a minimum estimate, because it ignores the epigenetic component in paternal TL variation and sperm TL heterogeneity within ejaculates. Our results indicate an important epigenetic component in the heritability of TL with potential consequences for offspring fitness prospects.

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<![CDATA[Metabolomic profiling reveals correlations between spermiogram parameters and the metabolites present in human spermatozoa and seminal plasma]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c76fe4fd5eed0c484e5b889

In 50% of all infertility cases, the male is subfertile or infertile, however, the underlying mechanisms are often unknown. Even when assisted reproductive procedures such as in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection are performed, the causes of male factor infertility frequently remain elusive. Since the overall activity of cells is closely linked to their metabolic capacity, we analyzed a panel of 180 metabolites in human sperm and seminal plasma and elucidated their associations with spermiogram parameters. Therefore, metabolites from a group of 20 healthy donors were investigated using a targeted LC-MS/MS approach. The correlation analyses of the amino acids, biogenic amines, acylcarnitines, lysophosphatidylcholines, phosphatidylcholines, sphingomyelins and sugars from sperm and seminal plasma with standard spermiogram parameters revealed that metabolites in sperm are closely related to sperm motility, whereas those in seminal plasma are closely related to sperm concentration and morphology. This study provides essential insights into the metabolome of human sperm and seminal plasma and its associations with sperm functions. This metabolomics technique could be a promising screening tool to detect the factors of male infertility in cases where the cause of infertility is unclear.

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<![CDATA[Adverse effects of paternal obesity on the motile spermatozoa quality]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6b2696d5eed0c484289d07

Growing evidence suggests that paternal obesity may decrease male fertility potential. During infertility treatment with intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), a morphologically normal motile spermatozoon is injected into a mature egg, when possible. However, sperm motility and morphology per se do not reflect the sperm molecular composition. In this study, we aimed to assess the quality of motile spermatozoa in the context of obesity by analysing their conventional and molecular characteristics as well as their ability to promote early embryonic development. A prospective study was conducted on 128 infertile men divided into three groups: 40 lean, 42 overweight, and 46 obese men. Conventional sperm parameters (concentration, motility and morphology) and sperm molecular status (chromatin composition and integrity, 5-methycytosine (5-mC) and 5-hydroxycytosine (5-hmC) contents and oxidative stress level) were analysed on raw semen and/or on motile spermatozoa selected by density gradient or swim-up techniques. Morphokinetic analysis of the embryos derived from ICSI was performed using the Embryoviewer software. Our results showed that the motile sperm-enriched fraction from obese men exhibited higher levels of retained histones (p<0.001), elevated percentage of altered chromatin integrity (p<0.001), and decreased contents of 5-hmC (p<0.001), and 5-mC (p<0.05) levels as compared to that from lean men. Importantly, there were no statistically significant correlations between these molecular parameters and the percentages of morphologically normal motile spermatozoa. Regarding embryo morphokinetics, the CC1 (p<0.05) and CC3 (p<0.05) embryonic cell cycles were significantly delayed in the cleavage embryos of the obese group as compared to the embryos of the lean group. Our data is of particular interest because, besides demonstrating the negative impacts of obesity on motile spermatozoa molecular composition, it also highlights the possible risk of disturbing early embryonic cell cycles kinetics in the context of paternal obesity.

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<![CDATA[GluClR-mediated inhibitory postsynaptic currents reveal targets for ivermectin and potential mechanisms of ivermectin resistance]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c59fee7d5eed0c484135792

Glutamate-gated chloride channel receptors (GluClRs) mediate inhibitory neurotransmission at invertebrate synapses and are primary targets of parasites that impact drastically on agriculture and human health. Ivermectin (IVM) is a broad-spectrum pesticide that binds and potentiates GluClR activity. Resistance to IVM is a major economic and health concern, but the molecular and synaptic mechanisms of resistance are ill-defined. Here we focus on GluClRs of the agricultural endoparasite, Haemonchus contortus. We demonstrate that IVM potentiates inhibitory input by inducing a tonic current that plateaus over 15 minutes and by enhancing post-synaptic current peak amplitude and decay times. We further demonstrate that IVM greatly enhances the active durations of single receptors. These effects are greatly attenuated when endogenous IVM-insensitive subunits are incorporated into GluClRs, suggesting a mechanism of IVM resistance that does not affect glutamate sensitivity. We discovered functional groups of IVM that contribute to tuning its potency at different isoforms and show that the dominant mode of access of IVM is via the cell membrane to the receptor.

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<![CDATA[Plasmodium male gametocyte development and transmission are critically regulated by the two putative deadenylases of the CAF1/CCR4/NOT complex]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5ca300d5eed0c48441efa2

With relatively few known specific transcription factors to control the abundance of specific mRNAs, Plasmodium parasites may rely more on the regulation of transcript stability and turnover to provide sufficient gene regulation. Plasmodium transmission stages impose translational repression on specific transcripts in part to accomplish this. However, few proteins are known to participate in this process, and those that are characterized primarily affect female gametocytes. We have identified and characterized Plasmodium yoelii (Py) CCR4-1, a putative deadenylase, which plays a role in the development and activation of male gametocytes, regulates the abundance of specific mRNAs in gametocytes, and ultimately increases the efficiency of host-to-vector transmission. We find that when pyccr4-1 is deleted or its protein made catalytically inactive, there is a loss in the initial coordination of male gametocyte maturation and a reduction of parasite infectivity of the mosquito. Expression of only the N-terminal CAF1 domain of the essential CAF1 deadenylase leads to a similar phenotype. Comparative RNA-seq revealed that PyCCR4-1 affects transcripts important for transmission-related functions that are associated with male or female gametocytes, some of which directly associate with the immunoprecipitated complex. Finally, circular RT-PCR of one of the bound, dysregulated transcripts showed that deletion of the pyccr4-1 gene does not result in gross changes to its UTR or poly(A) tail length. We conclude that the two putative deadenylases of the CAF1/CCR4/NOT complex play critical and intertwined roles in gametocyte maturation and transmission.

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<![CDATA[OpenCASA: A new open-source and scalable tool for sperm quality analysis]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c4b7f54d5eed0c484841137

In the field of assisted reproductive techniques (ART), computer-assisted sperm analysis (CASA) systems have proved their utility and potential for assessing sperm quality, improving the prediction of the fertility potential of a seminal dose. Although most laboratories and scientific centers use commercial systems, in the recent years certain free and open-source alternatives have emerged that can reduce the costs that research groups have to face. However, these open-source alternatives cannot analyze sperm kinetic responses to different stimuli, such as chemotaxis, thermotaxis or rheotaxis. In addition, the programs released to date have not usually been designed to encourage the scalability and the continuity of software development. We have developed an open-source CASA software, called OpenCASA, which allows users to study three classical sperm quality parameters: motility, morphometry and membrane integrity (viability) and offers the possibility of analyzing the guided movement response of spermatozoa to different stimuli (useful for chemotaxis, thermotaxis or rheotaxis studies) or different motile cells such as bacteria, using a single software. This software has been released in a Version Control System at Github. This platform will allow researchers not only to download the software but also to be involved in and contribute to further developments. Additionally, a Google group has been created to allow the research community to interact and discuss OpenCASA. For validation of the OpenCASA software, we analysed different simulated sperm populations (for chemotaxis module) and evaluated 36 ejaculates obtained from 12 fertile rams using other sperm analysis systems (for motility, membrane integrity and morphology modules). The results were compared with those obtained by Open-CASA using the Pearson’s correlation and Bland-Altman tests, obtaining a high level of correlation in all parameters and a good agreement between the different used methods and the OpenCASA. With this work, we propose an open-source project oriented to the development of a new software application for sperm quality analysis. This proposed software will use a minimally centralized infrastructure to allow the continued development of its modules by the research community.

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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[Beliefs, attitudes and funding of assisted reproductive technology: Public perception of over 6,000 respondents from 6 European countries]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c79afccd5eed0c4841e3787

Background

Fertility rates in Europe are among the lowest in the world, which may be attributed to both biological and lifestyle factors. Cost and reimbursement of fertility treatments vary across Europe, although its citizens enjoy wide access to fertility care. Since few regional studies evaluating public support for fertility treatment exist, we conducted the Listening IVF and Fertility in Europe (LIFE) survey to ascertain public perception of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and gamete donation as a treatment for infertility among European men and women.

Methods and findings

This survey was distributed via an online questionnaire to 8,682 individuals who were voluntary participants in an online research panel residing in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, or the UK. The survey covered items to determine respondents’ beliefs regarding IVF and its success, the need for public funding, the use of IVF among modern families with different lifestyles, and the support for gamete donation. Results were analyzed by age, country of origin, sex, and sexual orientation. A total of 6,110 (70% of total) men and women responded. Among all respondents, 10% had undergone IVF treatment and 48% had considered or would consider IVF in case of infertility. Respondents estimated IVF mean success rate to be 47% and over half of respondents believed that availability of IVF would encourage people to delay conception. Although 93% of respondents believed that IVF treatment should be publicly funded to some extent, a majority believed that secondary infertility or use of fertility treatments allowing to delay parenthood should be financed privately. Survey respondents believed that the mean number of stimulated IVF cycles funded publicly should be limited 2 to 3 (average 2.4). 79% of respondents were willing to pay for IVF if needed with a mean amount of 5,400 € for a child brought to life through IVF. According to respondents, mean minimum and maximum ages for IVF should be 29 and 42 years old, respectively. The current survey showed support for egg and sperm donation (78%), for IVF in single women (61%) and for same-sex female couples (64%). When analyzing the results per group (i.e., sex, age, sexual orientation, and countries), youngest age groups, homosexuals, bisexuals, German respondents, and men had similar overall positive attitudes and beliefs toward IVF and opinions on public funding. Perceived limits to availability were stronger in women.

Conclusion

Overall, the survey results demonstrate a positive attitude among respondents in an online panel toward IVF, gamete donation, and support for public funding for fertility treatment. These findings could potentially drive discussions between patients and prescribers to explore IVF treatment and among legislators and payers to support public funding for these procedures.

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<![CDATA[Transition from a meiotic to a somatic-like DNA damage response during the pachytene stage in mouse meiosis]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c50c4a0d5eed0c4845e8a80

Homologous recombination (HR) is the principal mechanism of DNA repair acting during meiosis and is fundamental for the segregation of chromosomes and the increase of genetic diversity. Nevertheless, non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) mechanisms can also act during meiosis, mainly in response to exogenously-induced DNA damage in late stages of first meiotic prophase. In order to better understand the relationship between these two repair pathways, we studied the response to DNA damage during male mouse meiosis after gamma radiation. We clearly discerned two types of responses immediately after treatment. From leptotene to early pachytene, exogenous damage triggered the massive presence of γH2AX throughout the nucleus, which was associated with DNA repair mediated by HR components (DMC1 and RAD51). This early pathway finished with the sequential removal of DMC1 and RAD51 and was no longer inducible at mid pachytene. However, from mid-pachytene to diplotene, γH2AX appeared as large discrete foci. This late repair pattern was mediated initially by NHEJ, involving Ku70 and XRCC4, which were constitutively present, and 53BP1, which appeared at sites of damage soon after irradiation. Nevertheless, 24 hours after irradiation, a HR pathway involving RAD51 but not DMC1 mostly replaced NHEJ. Additionally, we observed the occurrence of synaptonemal complex bridges between bivalents, most likely representing chromosome translocation events that may involve DMC1, RAD51 or 53BP1. Our results reinforce the idea that the early “meiotic” repair pathway that acts by default at the beginning of meiosis is replaced from mid-pachytene onwards by a “somatic-like” repair pattern. This shift might be important to resolve DNA damage (either endogenous or exogenous) that could not be repaired by the early meiotic mechanisms, for instance those in the sex chromosomes, which lack a homologous chromosome to repair with. This transition represents another layer of functional changes that occur in meiotic cells during mid pachytene, in addition to epigenetic reprograming, reactivation of transcription, changes in the gene expression profile and acquisition of competence to proceed to metaphase.

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