The DNA damage checkpoint protein RAD9A is essential for male meiosis in the mouse.
ABSTRACT: In mitotic cells, RAD9A functions in repairing DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) by homologous recombination and facilitates the process by cell cycle checkpoint control in response to DNA damage. DSBs occur naturally in the germline during meiosis but whether RAD9A participates in repairing such breaks is not known. In this study, we determined that RAD9A is indeed expressed in the male germ line with a peak of expression in late pachytene and diplotene stages, and the protein was found associated with the XY body. As complete loss of RAD9A is embryonic lethal, we constructed and characterized a mouse strain with Stra8-Cre driven germ cell-specific ablation of Rad9a beginning in undifferentiated spermatogonia in order to assess its role in spermatogenesis. Adult mutant male mice were infertile or sub-fertile due to massive loss of spermatogenic cells. The onset of this loss occurs during meiotic prophase, and there was an increase in the numbers of apoptotic spermatocytes as determined by TUNEL. Spermatocytes lacking RAD9A usually arrested in meiotic prophase, specifically in pachytene. The incidence of unrepaired DNA breaks increased, as detected by accumulation of ?H2AX and DMC1 foci on the axes of autosomal chromosomes in pachytene spermatocytes. The DNA topoisomerase II?-binding protein 1 (TOPBP1) was still localized to the sex body, albeit with lower intensity, suggesting that RAD9A may be dispensable for sex body formation. We therefore show for the first time that RAD9A is essential for male fertility and for repair of DNA DSBs during meiotic prophase I.
Project description:DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) pose a serious threat to genomic stability. Paradoxically, hundreds of programed DSBs are generated by SPO11 in meiotic prophase, which are exclusively repaired by homologous recombination (HR) to promote obligate crossover between homologous chromosomes. In somatic cells, MRE11-RAD50-NBS1 (MRN) complex-dependent DNA end resection is a prerequisite for HR repair, especially for DSBs that are covalently linked with proteins or chemicals. Interestingly, all meiotic DSBs are linked with SPO11 after being generated. Although MRN complex's function in meiotic DSB repair has been established in lower organisms, the role of MRN complex in mammalian meiotic DSB repair is not clear. Here, we show that MRN complex is essential for repairing meiotic SPO11-linked DSBs in male mice. In male germ cells, conditional inactivation of NBS1, a key component of MRN complex, causes dramatic reduction of DNA end resection and defective HR repair in meiotic prophase. NBS1 loss severely disrupts chromosome synapsis, generates abnormal chromosome structures, and eventually leads to meiotic arrest and male infertility in mice. Unlike in somatic cells, the recruitment of NBS1 to SPO11-linked DSB sites is MDC1-independent but requires other phosphorylated proteins. Collectively, our study not only reveals the significance of MRN complex in repairing meiotic DSBs but also discovers a unique mechanism that recruits MRN complex to SPO11-linked DSB sites.
Project description:Spermatogenesis is a complex process that generates haploid germ cells or spores and implements meiosis, a succession of two special cell divisions that are required for homologous chromosome segregation. During prophase to the first meiotic division, homologous recombination (HR) repairs Spo11-dependent DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) in the presence of telomere movements to allow for chromosome pairing and segregation at the meiosis I division. In contrast to HR, non-homologous end joining (NHEJ), the major DSB repair mechanism during the G1 cell cycle phase, is downregulated during early meiotic prophase. At somatic mammalian telomeres, the NHEJ factor Ku70/80 inhibits HR, as does the Rap1 component of the shelterin complex. Here, we investigated the role of Ku70 and Rap1 in meiotic telomere redistribution and genome protection in spermatogenesis by studying single and double knockout mice. Ku70(-/-) mice display reduced testis size and compromised spermatogenesis, whereas meiotic telomere dynamics and chromosomal bouquet formation occurred normally in Ku70(-/-) and Ku70(-/-)Rap1(?/?) knockout spermatocytes. Elevated mid-preleptotene frequencies were associated with significantly increased DNA damage in Ku-deficient B spermatogonia, and in differentiated Sertoli cells. Significantly elevated levels of ?H2AX foci in Ku70(-/-) diplotene spermatocytes suggest compromised progression of DNA repair at a subset of DSBs. This might explain the elevated meiotic metaphase apoptosis that is present in Ku70-deficient stage XII testis tubules, indicating spindle assembly checkpoint activation. In summary, our data indicate that Ku70 is important for repairing DSBs in somatic cells and in late spermatocytes of the testis, thereby assuring the fidelity of spermatogenesis.
Project description:During meiotic prophase in male mammals, the heterologous X and Y chromosomes remain largely unsynapsed, and meiotic sex chromosome inactivation (MSCI) leads to formation of the transcriptionally silenced XY body. In birds, the heterogametic sex is female, carrying Z and W chromosomes (ZW), whereas males have the homogametic ZZ constitution. During chicken oogenesis, the heterologous ZW pair reaches a state of complete heterologous synapsis, and this might enable maintenance of transcription of Z- and W chromosomal genes during meiotic prophase. Herein, we show that the ZW pair is transiently silenced, from early pachytene to early diplotene using immunocytochemistry and gene expression analyses. We propose that ZW inactivation is most likely achieved via spreading of heterochromatin from the W on the Z chromosome. Also, persistent meiotic DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) may contribute to silencing of Z. Surprisingly, gammaH2AX, a marker of DSBs, and also the earliest histone modification that is associated with XY body formation in mammalian and marsupial spermatocytes, does not cover the ZW during the synapsed stage. However, when the ZW pair starts to desynapse, a second wave of gammaH2AX accumulates on the unsynapsed regions of Z, which also show a reappearance of the DSB repair protein RAD51. This indicates that repair of meiotic DSBs on the heterologous part of Z is postponed until late pachytene/diplotene, possibly to avoid recombination with regions on the heterologously synapsed W chromosome. Two days after entering diplotene, the Z looses gammaH2AX and shows reactivation. This is the first report of meiotic sex chromosome inactivation in a species with female heterogamety, providing evidence that this mechanism is not specific to spermatogenesis. It also indicates the presence of an evolutionary force that drives meiotic sex chromosome inactivation independent of the final achievement of synapsis.
Project description:We devised a sensitive method for the site-specific detection of rare meiotic DNA strand breaks in germ cell-enriched testicular cell populations from mice that possess or lack an active recombination hot spot at the H2-Ea gene. Using germ cells from adult animals, we found an excellent correlation between the frequency of DNA breaks in the 418-bp H2-Ea hot spot and crossover activity. The temporal appearance of DNA breaks was also studied in 7- to 18-day-old mice with an active hot spot during the first waves of spermatogenesis. The number of DNA breaks detected rose as leptotene and zygotene spermatocytes populate the testis with a peak at day 14 postpartum, when leptotene, zygotene, and early pachytene spermatocytes are the most common meiotic prophase I cell types. The number of DNA breaks drops precipitously 1 day later, when middle to late pachytene spermatocytes become the dominant subtype. The recombination-related breaks in the hot spot likely reflect SPO11-induced double-strand breaks and/or recombination intermediates containing free 3' hydroxyl groups.
Project description:To protect germ cells from genomic instability, surveillance mechanisms ensure meiosis occurs properly. In mammals, spermatocytes that display recombination defects experience a so-called recombination-dependent arrest at the pachytene stage, which relies on the MRE11 complex-ATM-CHK2 pathway responding to unrepaired DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). Here, we asked if p53 family members-targets of ATM and CHK2-participate in this arrest. We bred double-mutant mice combining a mutation of a member of the p53 family (p53, TAp63, or p73) with a Trip13 mutation. Trip13 deficiency triggers a recombination-dependent response that arrests spermatocytes in pachynema before they have incorporated the testis-specific histone variant H1t into their chromatin. We find that deficiency for either p53 or TAp63, but not p73, allowed spermatocytes to progress further into meiotic prophase despite the presence of numerous unrepaired DSBs. Even so, the double mutant spermatocytes apoptosed at late pachynema because of sex body deficiency; thus p53 and TAp63 are dispensable for arrest caused by sex body defects. These data affirm that recombination-dependent and sex body-deficient arrests occur via genetically separable mechanisms.
Project description:Spermatogenesis does not progress beyond the pachytene stages of meiosis in Sertoli cell-specific AR knockout (SCARKO) mice. However, further evidence of meiotic arrest and underlying paracrine signals in SCARKO testes is still lacking. We utilized co-immunostaining of meiotic surface spreads to examine the key events during meiotic prophase I. SCARKO spermatocytes exhibited a failure in chromosomal synapsis observed by SCP1/SCP3 double-staining and CREST foci quantification. In addition, DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) were formed but were not repaired in the mutant spermatocytes, as revealed by ?-H2AX staining and DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) activity examination. The later stages of DSB repair, such as the accumulation of the RAD51 strand exchange protein and the localization of mismatch repair protein MLH1, were correspondingly altered in SCARKO spermatocytes. Notably, the expression of factors that guide RAD51 loading onto sites of DSBs, including TEX15, BRCA1/2 and PALB2, was severely impaired when either AR was down-regulated or EGF was up-regulated. We observed that some ligands in the epidermal growth factor (EGF) family were over-expressed in SCARKO Sertoli cells and that some receptors in the EGF receptor (EGFR) family were ectopically activated in the mutant spermatocytes. When EGF-EGFR signaling was repressed to approximately normal by the specific inhibitor AG1478 in the cultured SCARKO testis tissues, the arrested meiosis was partially rescued, and functional haploid cells were generated. Based on these data, we propose that AR in Sertoli cells regulates DSB repair and chromosomal synapsis of spermatocytes partially through proper intercellular EGF-EGFR signaling.
Project description:The mammalian Cul4 genes, Cul4A and Cul4B, encode the scaffold components of the cullin-based E3 ubiquitin ligases. The two Cul4 genes are functionally redundant. Recent study indicated that mice expressing a truncated CUL4A that fails to interact with its functional partner ROC1 exhibit no developmental phenotype. We generated a Cul4A-/- strain lacking exons 4-8 that does not express any detectable truncated protein. In this strain, the male mice are infertile and exhibit severe deficiencies in spermatogenesis. The primary spermatocytes are deficient in progression through late prophase I, a time point when expression of the X-linked Cul4B gene is silenced due to meiotic sex chromosome inactivation. Testes of the Cul4A-/- mice exhibit extensive apoptosis. Interestingly, the pachytene spermatocytes exhibit persistent double stranded breaks, suggesting a deficiency in homologous recombination. Also, we find that CUL4A localizes to the double stranded breaks generated in pre-pachytene spermatocytes. The observations identify a novel function of CUL4A in meiotic recombination and demonstrate an essential role of CUL4A in spermatogenesis.
Project description:Chromosome synapsis during zygotene is a prerequisite for the timely homologous recombinational repair of meiotic DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). Unrepaired DSBs are thought to trigger apoptosis during midpachytene of male meiosis if synapsis fails. An early pachytene response to asynapsis is meiotic silencing of unsynapsed chromatin (MSUC), which, in normal males, silences the X and Y chromosomes (meiotic sex chromosome inactivation [MSCI]). In this study, we show that MSUC occurs in Spo11-null mouse spermatocytes with extensive asynapsis but lacking meiotic DSBs. In contrast, three mutants (Dnmt3l, Msh5, and Dmc1) with high levels of asynapsis and numerous persistent unrepaired DSBs have a severely impaired MSUC response. We suggest that MSUC-related proteins, including the MSUC initiator BRCA1, are sequestered at unrepaired DSBs. All four mutants fail to silence the X and Y chromosomes (MSCI failure), which is sufficient to explain the midpachytene apoptosis. Apoptosis does not occur in mice with a single additional asynapsed chromosome with unrepaired meiotic DSBs and no disturbance of MSCI.
Project description:PR domain containing 9 (Prdm9) is specifying hotspots of meiotic recombination but in hybrids between two mouse subspecies Prdm9 controls failure of meiotic chromosome synapsis and hybrid male sterility. We have previously reported that Prdm9-controlled asynapsis and meiotic arrest are conditioned by the inter-subspecific heterozygosity of the hybrid genome and we presumed that the insufficient number of properly repaired PRDM9-dependent DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) causes asynapsis of chromosomes and meiotic arrest (Gregorova et al., 2018). We now extend the evidence for the lack of properly processed DSBs by improving meiotic chromosome synapsis with exogenous DSBs. A single injection of chemotherapeutic drug cisplatin increased frequency of RPA and DMC1 foci at the zygotene stage of sterile hybrids, enhanced homolog recognition and increased the proportion of spermatocytes with fully synapsed homologs at pachytene. The results bring a new evidence for a DSB-dependent mechanism of synapsis failure and infertility of intersubspecific hybrids.
Project description:Both in mice and humans, two major SPO11 isoforms are generated by alternative splicing: SPO11alpha (exon 2 skipped) and SPO11beta. Thus, the alternative splicing event must have emerged before the mouse and human lineages diverged and was maintained during 90 million years of evolution, arguing for an essential role for both isoforms. Here we demonstrate that developmental regulation of alternative splicing at the Spo11 locus governs the sequential expression of SPO11 isoforms in male meiotic prophase. Protein quantification in juvenile mice and in prophase mutants indicates that early spermatocytes synthesize primarily SPO11beta. Estimation of the number of SPO11 dimers (betabeta/alphabeta/alphaalpha) in mutants in which spermatocytes undergo a normal number of double strand breaks but arrest in midprophase due to inefficient repair argues for a role for SPO11beta-containing dimers in introducing the breaks in leptonema. Expression kinetics in males suggested a role for SPO11alpha in pachytene/diplotene spermatocytes. Nevertheless, we found that both alternative transcripts can be detected in oocytes throughout prophase I, arguing against a male-specific function for this isoform. Altogether, our data support a role for SPO11alpha in mid- to late prophase, presumably acting as a topoisomerase, that would be conserved in male and female meiocytes.