ResearchPad - testes 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[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[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[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[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[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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<![CDATA[Maintenance of Stem Cell Niche Integrity by a Novel Activator of Integrin Signaling]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dae1ab0ee8fa60bbc1c4

Stem cells depend critically on the surrounding microenvironment, or niche, for their maintenance and self-renewal. While much is known about how the niche regulates stem cell self-renewal and differentiation, mechanisms for how the niche is maintained over time are not well understood. At the apical tip of the Drosophila testes, germline stem cells (GSCs) and somatic stem cells share a common niche formed by hub cells. Here we demonstrate that a novel protein named Shriveled (Shv) is necessary for the maintenance of hub/niche integrity. Depletion of Shv protein results in age-dependent deterioration of the hub structure and loss of GSCs, whereas upregulation of Shv preserves the niche during aging. We find Shv is a secreted protein that modulates DE-cadherin levels through extracellular activation of integrin signaling. Our work identifies Shv as a novel activator of integrin signaling and suggests a new integration model in which crosstalk between integrin and DE-cadherin in niche cells promote their own preservation by maintaining the niche architecture.

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<![CDATA[KDM1A/LSD1 regulates the differentiation and maintenance of spermatogonia in mice]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db5aab0ee8fa60bdf79d

The proper regulation of spermatogenesis is crucial to ensure the continued production of sperm and fertility. Here, we investigated the function of the H3K4me2 demethylase KDM1A/LSD1 during spermatogenesis in developing and adult mice. Conditional deletion of Kdm1a in the testis just prior to birth leads to fewer spermatogonia and germ cell loss before 3 weeks of age. These results demonstrate that KDM1A is required for spermatogonial differentiation, as well as germ cell survival, in the developing testis. In addition, inducible deletion of Kdm1a in the adult testis results in the abnormal accumulation of meiotic spermatocytes, as well as apoptosis and progressive germ cell loss. These results demonstrate that KDM1A is also required during adult spermatogenesis. Furthermore, without KDM1A, the stem cell factor OCT4 is ectopically maintained in differentiating germ cells. This requirement for KDM1A is similar to what has been observed in other stem cell populations, suggesting a common function. Taken together, we propose that KDM1A is a key regulator of spermatogenesis and germ cell maintenance in the mouse.

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<![CDATA[Participation of androgen and its receptor in sex determination of an amphibian species]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db5cab0ee8fa60be0312

Introduction

In the Japanese frog Rana (R.) rugosa the androgen receptor (AR) gene on the W chromosome (W-AR) is barely expressed. Previously we showed that incomplete female-to-male sex-reversal occurred in Z-AR transgenic female frogs. To date, however, there is no report showing that AR with androgens can determine genetically programed male sex fate in any vertebrate species. Here, we examined whether AR together with androgens functions as a sex determinant in an amphibian species.

Methods

To examine whether complete female-to-male sex-reversal occurs in R. rugosa frogs, we produced AR-transgenic (Tg) and -knockdown (KD) female R. rugosa frogs by the I-SceI meganuclease-mediated gene trap and CRISPR/Cas9 system, respectively. AR-Tg and -KD tadpoles were reared in water containing testosterone (T) at 0 to 7.1 ng/ml. Frozen sections were prepared from the gonads of metamorphosed frogs and immunostained for laminin, Vasa, Pat1a, CYP17 and AR. We also employed PCR analysis to examine Dmrt1, Pat1a and CYP17 expression in the gonads of KD and placebo-KD female frogs.

Results

Complete female-to-male sex-reversal occurred in the AR-Tg ZW female frogs when a low dosage of T was supplied in the rearing water of tadpoles. However, no sex-reversal was observed in AR-KD ZW female frogs when the gonads were treated with dosages of T high enough to induce complete female-to-male sex-reversal even in wild type frogs.

Discussion

These results suggest that AR with its androgen ligand functions as a male sex-determinant in the ZW type R. rugosa frogs.

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<![CDATA[Expression of the Retrotransposon Helena Reveals a Complex Pattern of TE Deregulation in Drosophila Hybrids]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da3bab0ee8fa60b87ed8

Transposable elements (TEs), repeated mobile sequences, are ubiquitous in the eukaryotic kingdom. Their mobilizing capacity confers on them a high mutagenic potential, which must be strongly regulated to guarantee genome stability. In the Drosophila germline, a small RNA-mediated silencing system, the piRNA (Piwi-interacting RNA) pathway, is the main responsible TE regulating mechanism, but some stressful conditions can destabilize it. For instance, during interspecific hybridization, genomic stress caused by the shock of two different genomes can lead, in both animals and plants, to higher transposition rates. A recent study in D. buzatii—D. koepferae hybrids detected mobilization of 28 TEs, yet little is known about the molecular mechanisms explaining this transposition release. We have characterized one of the mobilized TEs, the retrotransposon Helena, and used quantitative expression to assess whether its high transposition rates in hybrids are preceded by increased expression. We have also localized Helena expression in the gonads to see if cellular expression patterns have changed in the hybrids. To give more insight into changes in TE regulation in hybrids, we analysed Helena-specific piRNA populations of hybrids and parental species. Helena expression is not globally altered in somatic tissues, but male and female gonads have different patterns of deregulation. In testes, Helena is repressed in F1, increasing then its expression up to parental values. This is linked with a mislocation of Helena transcripts along with an increase of their specific piRNA levels. Ovaries have additive levels of Helena expression, but the ping-pong cycle efficiency seems to be reduced in F1 hybrids. This could be at the origin of new Helena insertions in hybrids, which would be transmitted to F1 hybrid female progeny.

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<![CDATA[Adult Gli2+/–;Gli3Δ699/+ Male and Female Mice Display a Spectrum of Genital Malformation]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da22ab0ee8fa60b7f401

Disorders of sexual development (DSD) encompass a broad spectrum of urogenital malformations and are amongst the most common congenital birth defects. Although key genetic factors such as the hedgehog (Hh) family have been identified, a unifying postnatally viable model displaying the spectrum of male and female urogenital malformations has not yet been reported. Since human cases are diagnosed and treated at various stages postnatally, equivalent mouse models enabling analysis at similar stages are of significant interest. Additionally, all non-Hh based genetic models investigating DSD display normal females, leaving female urogenital development largely unknown. Here, we generated compound mutant mice, Gli2+/–;Gli3Δ699/+, which exhibit a spectrum of urogenital malformations in both males and females upon birth, and also carried them well into adulthood. Analysis of embryonic day (E)18.5 and adult mice revealed shortened anogenital distance (AGD), open ventral urethral groove, incomplete fusion of scrotal sac, abnormal penile size and structure, and incomplete testicular descent with hypoplasia in male mice, whereas female mutant mice displayed reduced AGD, urinary incontinence, and a number of uterine anomalies such as vaginal duplication. Male and female fertility was also investigated via breeding cages, and it was identified that male mice were infertile while females were unable to deliver despite becoming impregnated. We propose that Gli2+/–;Gli3Δ699/+ mice can serve as a genetic mouse model for common DSD such as cryptorchidism, hypospadias, and incomplete fusion of the scrotal sac in males, and a spectrum of uterine and vaginal abnormalities along with urinary incontinence in females, which could prove essential in revealing new insights into their equivalent diseases in humans.

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<![CDATA[Meiotic failure in cyclin A1-deficient mouse spermatocytes triggers apoptosis through intrinsic and extrinsic signaling pathways and 14-3-3 proteins]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db50ab0ee8fa60bdc025

Cyclin A1 (Ccna1), a member of the mammalian A type cyclins, is most abundantly expressed in spermatocytes and is essential for spermatogenesis in the mouse. Ccna1- deficient spermatocytes arrest at late meiotic prophase and undergo apoptosis. To further delineate the mechanisms and key factors involved in this process, we have examined changes in expression of genes involved in both intrinsic and extrinsic signaling pathways that trigger apoptosis in the mutant spermatocytes. Our results show that both pathways are involved, and that the factors involved in the intrinsic pathway were expressed earlier than those involved in the extrinsic pathway. We have also begun to identify in vivo Ccna1-interacting proteins, using an unbiased biochemical approach, and identified 14-3-3, a key regulator of apoptosis, as a Ccna1-interacting protein. Expression levels of 14-3-3 proteins remain unchanged between wild type and mutant testes but there were differences in the subcellular distribution. In wild type control, 14-3-3 is detected in both cytosolic and nuclear fractions whereas it is restricted to the cytoplasm in mutant testes. This differential distribution of 14-3-3 may contribute to the induction of apoptosis in Ccna1-deficient spermatocytes. These results provide insight into the apoptotic mechanisms and pathways that are triggered when progression through the meiotic cell cycle is defective in male gametogenesis.

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<![CDATA[Dearth and Delayed Maturation of Testicular Germ Cells in Fanconi Anemia E Mutant Male Mice]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dab8ab0ee8fa60bad95d

After using a self-inactivating lentivirus for non-targeted insertional mutagenesis in mice, we identified a transgenic family with a recessive mutation that resulted in reduced fertility in homozygous transgenic mice. The lentiviral integration site was amplified by inverse PCR. Sequencing revealed that integration had occurred in intron 8 of the mouse Fance gene, which encodes the Fanconi anemia E (Fance) protein. Fanconi anemia (FA) proteins play pivotal roles in cellular responses to DNA damage and Fance acts as a molecular bridge between the FA core complex and Fancd2. To investigate the reduced fertility in the mutant males, we analyzed postnatal development of testicular germ cells. At one week after birth, most tubules in the mutant testes contained few or no germ cells. Over the next 2–3 weeks, germ cells accumulated in a limited number of tubules, so that some tubules contained germ cells around the full periphery of the tubule. Once sufficient numbers of germ cells had accumulated, they began to undergo the later stages of spermatogenesis. Immunoassays revealed that the Fancd2 protein accumulated around the periphery of the nucleus in normal developing spermatocytes, but we did not detect a similar localization of Fancd2 in the Fance mutant testes. Our assays indicate that although Fance mutant males are germ cell deficient at birth, the extant germ cells can proliferate and, if they reach a threshold density, can differentiate into mature sperm. Analogous to previous studies of FA genes in mice, our results show that the Fance protein plays an important, but not absolutely essential, role in the initial developmental expansion of the male germ line.

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<![CDATA[Systematic identification and characterization of long non-coding RNAs in mouse mature sperm]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db50ab0ee8fa60bdbea0

Increasing studies have shown that mature spermatozoa contain many transcripts including mRNAs and miRNAs. However, the expression profile of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) in mammalian sperm has not been systematically investigated. Here, we used highly purified RNA to investigate lncRNA expression profiles in mouse mature sperm by stranded-specific RNA-seq. We identified 20,907 known and 4,088 novel lncRNAs transcripts, and the existence of intact lncRNAs was confirmed by RT-PCR and fluorescence in situ hybridization on two representative lncRNAs. Compared to round spermatids, 1,794 upregulated and 165 downregulated lncRNAs and 4,435 upregulated and 3,920 downregulated mRNAs were identified in sperm. Based on the “Cis and Trans” RNA-RNA interaction principle, we found 14,259 targeted coding genes of differently expressed lncRNAs. In terms of Gene ontology (GO) analysis, differentially expressed lncRNAs targeted genes mainly related to nucleic acid metabolic, protein modification, chromatin and histone modification, heterocycle compound metabolic, sperm function, spermatogenesis and other processes. In contrast, differentially expressed transcripts of mRNAs were highly enriched for protein metabolic process and RNA metabolic, spermatogenesis, sperm motility, cell cycle, chromatin organization, heterocycle and aromatic compound metabolic processes. Kyoto encyclopedia of genes and genomes (KEGG) pathway analysis showed that the differentially expressed lncRNAs were involved in RNA transport, mRNA surveillance pathway, PI3K-Akt signaling pathway, AMPK signaling pathway, protein processing in endoplasmic reticulum. Metabolic pathways, mRNA surveillance pathway, AMPK signaling pathway, cell cycle, RNA transport splicesome and endocytosis incorporated with the differentially expressed mRNA. Furthermore, many lncRNAs were specifically expressed in testis/sperm, and 880 lncRNAs were conserved between human and mouse. In summary, this study provides a preliminary database valuable for identifying lncRNAs critical in the late stage of spermatogenesis or important for sperm function regulation, fertilization and early embryo development.

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<![CDATA[Tandem duplications lead to novel expression patterns through exon shuffling in Drosophila yakuba]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db5cab0ee8fa60be0157

One common hypothesis to explain the impacts of tandem duplications is that whole gene duplications commonly produce additive changes in gene expression due to copy number changes. Here, we use genome wide RNA-seq data from a population sample of Drosophila yakuba to test this ‘gene dosage’ hypothesis. We observe little evidence of expression changes in response to whole transcript duplication capturing 5′ and 3′ UTRs. Among whole gene duplications, we observe evidence that dosage sharing across copies is likely to be common. The lack of expression changes after whole gene duplication suggests that the majority of genes are subject to tight regulatory control and therefore not sensitive to changes in gene copy number. Rather, we observe changes in expression level due to both shuffling of regulatory elements and the creation of chimeric structures via tandem duplication. Additionally, we observe 30 de novo gene structures arising from tandem duplications, 23 of which form with expression in the testes. Thus, the value of tandem duplications is likely to be more intricate than simple changes in gene dosage. The common regulatory effects from chimeric gene formation after tandem duplication may explain their contribution to genome evolution.

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