Dynamics of the Transcriptome during Human Spermatogenesis: Predicting the Potential Key Genes Regulating Male Gametes Generation.
ABSTRACT: Many infertile men are the victims of spermatogenesis disorder. However, conventional clinical test could not provide efficient information on the causes of spermatogenesis disorder and guide the doctor how to treat it. More effective diagnosis and treating methods could be developed if the key genes that regulate spermatogenesis were determined. Many works have been done on animal models, while there are few works on human beings due to the limited sample resources. In current work, testis tissues were obtained from 27 patients with obstructive azoospermia via surgery. The combination of Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting and Magnetic Activated Cell Sorting was chosen as the efficient method to sort typical germ cells during spermatogenesis. RNA Sequencing was carried out to screen the change of transcriptomic profile of the germ cells during spermatogenesis. Differential expressed genes were clustered according to their expression patterns. Gene Ontology annotation, pathway analysis, and Gene Set Enrichment Analysis were carried out on genes with specific expression patterns and the potential key genes such as HOXs, JUN, SP1, and TCF3 which were involved in the regulation of spermatogenesis, with the potential value serve as molecular tools for clinical purpose, were predicted.
Project description:A single, rapid and reproducible diagnostic test to predict the type of azoospermia and outcome of sperm retrieval is not yet available. So the feasibility of employing DNA flow cytometry for rapid investigation of the status of spermatogenesis in the patients with azoospermia was investigated. Testicular biopsies of 44 patients with azoospermia undergoing sperm-retrieval surgery and 4 controls were analyzed by flow cytometry to ascertain their testicular germ-cell patterns. The observed germ-cell pattern was further confirmed by RT-PCR analysis of the cell-specific markers and histology for some patients. The patients with Obstructive Azoospermia (OA) exhibited normal spermatogenesis similar to the control fertile patients showing the presence of diploid, double-diploid and haploid cells. The non-obstructive azoospermia (NOA) patients exhibited disrupted spermatogenesis with arrest at the pre-meiotic (only diploid cells present) or meiotic (diploid and double-diploid cells present) stages. The germ-cell pattern, as ascertained by flow cytometry, provided a clear picture of the intra-testicular spermatogenesis and the presence of spermatozoa in the patients' testes, which was prognostic of their sperm-retrieval. DNA flow cytometry test to ascertain the testicular germ-cell pattern is simple in execution, analysis and interpretation, requires small amount of tissue and provides quantitative data about the status of spermatogenesis in patients. This test would allow comparable analysis of the status of spermatogenesis in patients across clinics and may form the basis for deciding future treatment and intervention strategies.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:Spermatogenesis is a complex process controlled by a plethora of genes. Changes in expression and function of these genes may thus lead to spermatogenic deficiency and male infertility. TEX11, TEX12, TEX14 and TEX15 are germ cell-specific genes expressed in the testis. TEX11, involved in the initiation and maintenance of chromosome synapses in meiotic chromosomes, has been shown to be essential for meiosis and fertility in males. TEX14, a component of intercellular bridges in germ cells, is required for spermatogenesis and fertility. TEX12 and TEX15 are essential for correct assembly of the synaptonemal complex and thus meiosis progression. METHODS:In order to examine whether changes in expression of these genes is associated with impaired spermatogenesis, expression levels of these genes were quantified by RT-qPCR on samples retrieved from infertile patients submitted to diagnostic testicular biopsy at Royan institute. Samples were divided into two groups of 18 patients with non-obstructive azoospermia considered as case; nine patients with obstructive azoospermia were included in the control group. RESULTS:A significant down-regulation of these genes was observed in the SCOS group when compared to the control group. CONCLUSION:This result suggests that regular expression of TEX11, TEX12, TEX14 and TEX15 is essential for the early stages of spermatogenesis.
Project description:BRD7 was originally identified as a novel bromodomain gene and a potential transcriptional factor. BRD7 was found to be extensively expressed in multiple mouse tissues but was highly expressed in the testis. Furthermore, BRD7 was located in germ cells during multiple stages of spermatogenesis, ranging from the pachytene to the round spermatid stage. Homozygous knockout of BRD7 (BRD7(-/-)) resulted in complete male infertility and spermatogenesis defects, including deformed acrosomal formation, degenerative elongating spermatids and irregular head morphology in postmeiotic germ cells in the seminiferous epithelium, which led to the complete arrest of spermatogenesis at step 13. Moreover, a high ratio of apoptosis was determined by TUNEL analysis, which was supported by high levels of the apoptosis markers annexin V and p53 in knockout testes. Increased expression of the DNA damage maker ?H2AX was also found in BRD7(-/-) mice, whereas DNA damage repair genes were down-regulated. Furthermore, no or lower expression of BRD7 was detected in the testes of azoospermia patients exhibiting spermatogenesis arrest than that in control group. These data demonstrate that BRD7 is involved in male infertility and spermatogenesis in mice, and BRD7 defect might be associated with the occurrence and development of human azoospermia.
Project description:Male infertility is a complex multifactorial disease affecting approximately 10% of couples who want to have children. Some cases of infertility can be explained by genetic factors. Septins are members of the GTPase superfamily, which are involved in diverse biological processes including morphogenesis, compartmentalization, cytokinesis, and apoptosis. The septin 12 gene, SEPT12, is expressed exclusively in post-meiotic male germ cells and is considered as a critical gene for spermatogenesis. In this study, we evaluated 200 patients with non-obstructive azoospermia and detected mutations of 25 spermatogenesis-associated genes by targeted exome sequencing. We report a missense SEPT12 variant, c.673C>A/p.Gln225Lys, in an infertile man with non-obstructive azoospermia. The variation was located inside the GTPase domain and had a SIFT score of 0.02 (<0.50) and was considered to be 'probably damaging' by PolyPhen. This case may provide clues to help establish the relationship between SEPT12 gene alterations and some cases of idiopathic male infertility. The role of this variant should thus be investigated further.
Project description:Testicular development starts in utero and maturation continues postnatally, requiring a cascade of gene activation and differentiation into different cell types, with each cell type having its own specific function. As we had previously reported that the Capping protein inhibiting regulator of actin (Cracd) gene was expressed in the adult mouse testis, herein we examine when and where the ?-catenin associated Cracd is initially expressed during postnatal testis development. Significantly, Cracd mRNA is present in both the immature postnatal and adult testis in round spermatid cells, with highest level of expression occurring during the first wave of meiosis and spermatogenesis. In the juvenile testes, Cracd is initially expressed within the innermost region but as maturation occurs, Cracd mRNA switches to a more peripheral location. Thereafter, Cracd is downregulated to maintenance levels in the haploid male germ cell lineage. As Cracd mRNA was expressed within developing round spermatids, we tested its effectiveness as a biomarker of non-obstructive azoospermia using transgenic knockout mice models. Meaningfully, Cracd expression was absent in Deleted in azoospermia like (Dazl) null testis, which exhibit a dramatic germ cell loss. Moreover, Cracd was abnormally regulated and ectopically mis-expressed in Polypyrimidine tract binding protein-2 (Ptbp2) conditional germ cell restricted knockout testis, which exhibit a block during spermatid differentiation and a reduction in the number of late stage spermatocytes coincident with reduced ?-catenin expression. Combined, these data suggest that Cracd is a useful first wave of spermatogenesis biomarker of azoospermia phenotypes, even prior to an overt phenotype being evident.
Project description:Azoospermia is one of the major reproductive disorders which cause male infertility in humans; however, the etiology of this disease is largely unknown. In the present study, six missense mutations of WT1 gene were detected in 529 human patients with non-obstructive azoospermia (NOA), indicating a strong association between WT1 mutation and NOA. The Wilms tumor gene, Wt1, is specifically expressed in Sertoli cells (SCs) which support spermatogenesis. To examine the functions of this gene in spermatogenesis, Wt1 was deleted in adult testis using Wt1(flox) and Cre-ER(TM) mice strains. We found that inactivation of Wt1 resulted in massive germ cell death and only SCs were present in most of the seminiferous tubules which was very similar to NOA in humans. In investigating the potential mechanism for this, histological studies revealed that the blood-testis barrier (BTB) was disrupted in Wt1 deficient testes. In vitro studies demonstrated that Wt1 was essential for cell polarity maintenance in SCs. Further studies found that the expression of cell polarity associated genes (Par6b and E-cadherin) and Wnt signaling genes (Wnt4, Wnt11) were downregulated in Wt1 deficient SCs, and that the expression of Par6b and E-cadherin was regulated by Wnt4. Our findings suggest that Wt1 is important in spermatogenesis by regulating the polarity of SCs via Wnt signaling pathway and that WT1 mutation is one of the genetic causes of NOA in humans.
Project description:The main genetic cause of male infertility is represented by the Klinefelter Syndrome (KS), a condition accounting for 3% of all cases of infertility and up to15% of cases of azoospermia. KS is generally characterized by azoospermia; approximately 10% of cases have severe oligozoospermia. Among these, the 30-40% of patients show hypospermatogenesis. The mechanisms leading to adult testis dysfunctions are not completely understood. A microarray transcriptome analysis was performed on testis biopsies obtained from three KS patients with hypospermatogenesis and three control subjects. KS testis showed a differential up- and down-regulation of 303 and 747 transcripts, respectively, as compared to controls. The majority of down-regulated transcripts were involved in spermiogenesis failure and testis morphological defects, whereas up-regulated genes were responsible for testis apoptotic processes. Functional analysis of the transcriptionally altered genes indicated a deregulation in cell death, germ cell function and morphology as well as blood-testis-barrier maintenance and Leydig cells activity. These data support a complex scenario in which spermatogenic impairment is the result of functional and morphological alterations in both germinal and somatic components of KS testis. These findings could represent the basis for evaluating new markers of KS spermatogenesis and potential targets of therapeutic intervention to preserve residual spermatogenesis.
Project description:About 10% of male infertile patients show abnormalities in spermatogenesis. The microdeletion of azoospermia factor a (AZFa) region of the Y chromosome is thought to be a cause of spermatogenic failure. However, candidate gene responsible for the spermatogenic failure in AZFa deleted patients has not been elucidated yet. Using mice, we explored the function of Ddx3y, a strong candidate gene in the Azfa region, and Ddx3x, a Ddx3y paralog on the X chromosome, in spermatogenesis. We first generated Ddx3y KO male mice using CRISPR/Cas9 and found that the Ddx3y KO male mice show normal spermatogenesis, produce morphologically normal spermatozoa, and sire healthy offspring. Because Ddx3x KO males were embryonic lethal, we next generated chimeric mice, which contain Ddx3x and Ddx3y double KO (dKO) germ cells, and found that the dKO germ cells can differentiate into spermatozoa and transmit their mutant alleles to offspring by normal mating. We conclude that Ddx3x and Ddx3y are dispensable for spermatogenesis at least in mice. Unlike human, mice have an additional Ddx3y paralog D1pas1, that has been reported to be essential for spermatogenesis. These findings suggest that human and mouse DDX3 related proteins have distinct differences in their functions.
Project description:Small non-coding RNAs act as critical regulators of gene expression and are essential for male germ cell development and spermatogenesis. Previously, we showed that germ cell-specific inactivation of Dicer1, an endonuclease essential for the biogenesis of micro-RNAs (miRNAs) and endogenous small interfering RNAs (endo-siRNAs), led to complete male infertility due to alterations in meiotic progression, increased spermatocyte apoptosis and defects in the maturation of spermatozoa. To dissect the distinct physiological roles of miRNAs and endo-siRNAs in spermatogenesis, we compared the testicular phenotype of mice with Dicer1 or Dgcr8 depletion in male germ cells. Dgcr8 mutant mice, which have a defective miRNA pathway while retaining an intact endo-siRNA pathway, were also infertile and displayed similar defects, although less severe, to Dicer1 mutant mice. These included cumulative defects in meiotic and haploid phases of spermatogenesis, resulting in oligo-, terato-, and azoospermia. In addition, we found by RNA sequencing of purified spermatocytes that inactivation of Dicer1 and the resulting absence of miRNAs affected the fine tuning of protein-coding gene expression by increasing low level gene expression. Overall, these results emphasize the essential role of miRNAs in the progression of spermatogenesis, but also indicate a role for endo-siRNAs in this process.
Project description:Brek/Lmtk2 (brain-enriched kinase/lemur tyrosine kinase 2) is a member of the Aatyk family of kinases that comprises Aatyk1, Brek/Lmtk2/Aatyk2, and Aatyk3. Although several potential roles have been proposed for Brek and other Aatyk family members, the physiological functions of these kinases remain unclear. Here, we report that Brek(-/-) male mice are infertile, with azoospermia. Detailed histological analysis revealed that Brek(-/-) germ cells differentiated normally until the round-spermatid stage, but failed to undergo the normal change in morphology to become elongated spermatids. Testicular somatic cells appeared normal in these mice. Expression of Brek in testis was restricted to the germ cells, suggesting that the maturations of germ cells in Brek(-/-) mice are affected in a cell-autonomous manner. On the basis of these findings, we concluded that Brek is essential for a late stage of spermatogenesis. Further clarification of the mechanism by which Brek regulates spermatogenesis may help identify new targets for reproductive contraceptives and treatments against infertility.