In mammalian foetal testes, SOX9 regulates expression of its target genes by binding to genomic regions with conserved signatures.
ABSTRACT: In mammalian embryonic gonads, SOX9 is required for the determination of Sertoli cells that orchestrate testis morphogenesis. To identify genetic networks directly regulated by SOX9, we combined analysis of SOX9-bound chromatin regions from murine and bovine foetal testes with sequencing of RNA samples from mouse testes lacking Sox9. We found that SOX9 controls a conserved genetic programme that involves most of the sex-determining genes. In foetal testes, SOX9 modulates both transcription and directly or indirectly sex-specific differential splicing of its target genes through binding to genomic regions with sequence motifs that are conserved among mammals and that we called 'Sertoli Cell Signature' (SCS). The SCS is characterized by a precise organization of binding motifs for the Sertoli cell reprogramming factors SOX9, GATA4 and DMRT1. As SOX9 biological role in mammalian gonads is to determine Sertoli cells, we correlated this genomic signature with the presence of SOX9 on chromatin in foetal testes, therefore equating this signature to a genomic bar code of the fate of foetal Sertoli cells. Starting from the hypothesis that nuclear factors that bind to genomic regions with SCS could functionally interact with SOX9, we identified TRIM28 as a new SOX9 partner in foetal testes.
Project description:In mammals, male fate is under the control of the master transcriptional regulator, SOX9: in its presence, somatic precursor cells of the embryonic gonads differentiate into Sertoli cells, the main organizers of testicular differentiation. Therefore, analyzing target genes of this transcription factor allows understanding mechanisms of cellular commitment at the genomic level. With the use of ChIP-seq in murine and bovine wild-type testes combined with RNAseq from mouse testes lacking SOX9, we identified SOX9 target genes in the mammalian fetal gonad. SOX9 in murine and bovine fetal testes binds to a large set of genes conserved among mammals, including those with well-established roles in testis and ovary development. RNAseq analysis shows that testis and ovary display sex specific RNA splicing and that SOX9 mediates both target gene transcription and differential splicing. Regions bound by SOX9 are predominantly 5’ proximal or intra-genic, and display a specific genomic features that we call "Sertoli cell signatures" or SCS. The SCS is conserved among mammals and comprises multiple binding motifs for the Sertoli reprogramming factors SOX9, GATA4 and DMRT1; indeed, independent DMRT1 ChIP-seq confirms the enrichment of the SCS. Bioinformatic analysis of SCSs regions predicts novel regulatory mechanisms prompting functional validation. For example, we detected SCS in target genes of the nuclear factor TRIM28 and we show experimentally that SOX9 and TRIM28 proteins interact in fetal testis. Overall design: examination of the role of the transcription factor SOX9 in the fetal testis
Project description:In mammals, male fate is under the control of the master transcriptional regulator, SOX9: in its presence, somatic precursor cells of the embryonic gonads differentiate into Sertoli cells, the main organizers of testicular differentiation. Therefore, analyzing target genes of this transcription factor allows understanding mechanisms of cellular commitment at the genomic level. With the use of ChIP-seq in murine and bovine wild-type testes combined with RNAseq from mouse testes lacking SOX9, we identified SOX9 target genes in the mammalian fetal gonad. SOX9 in murine and bovine fetal testes binds to a large set of genes conserved among mammals, including those with well-established roles in testis and ovary development. RNAseq analysis shows that testis and ovary display sex specific RNA splicing and that SOX9 mediates both target gene transcription and differential splicing. Regions bound by SOX9 are predominantly 5’ proximal or intra-genic, and display a specific genomic features that we call "Sertoli cell signatures" or SCS. The SCS is conserved among mammals and comprises multiple binding motifs for the Sertoli reprogramming factors SOX9, GATA4 and DMRT1; indeed, independent DMRT1 ChIP-seq confirms the enrichment of the SCS. Bioinformatic analysis of SCSs regions predicts novel regulatory mechanisms prompting functional validation. For example, we detected SCS in target genes of the nuclear factor TRIM28 and we show experimentally that SOX9 and TRIM28 proteins interact in fetal testis. Overall design: examination of the role of the transcription factor SOX9 in the fetal testis: ChIP-seq
Project description:Wilms tumor protein 1 (WT1) has been implicated in the control of several genes in sexual development, but its function in gonad formation is still unclear. Here, we report that WT1 stimulates expression of Kdr, the gene encoding VEGF receptor 2, in murine embryonic gonads. We found that WT1 and KDR are co-expressed in Sertoli cells of the testes and somatic cells of embryonic ovaries. Vivo-morpholino-mediated WT1 knockdown decreased Kdr transcripts in cultured embryonic gonads at multiple developmental stages. Furthermore, WT1 bound to the Kdr promoter in the chromatin of embryonic testes and ovaries. Forced expression of the WT1(-KTS) isoform, which functions as a transcription factor, increased KDR mRNA levels, whereas the WT1(+KTS) isoform, which acts presumably on the post-transcriptional level, did not. ChIP indicated that WT1(-KTS), but not WT1(+KTS), binds to the KDR promoter. Treatment with the KDR tyrosine kinase inhibitor SU1498 or the KDR ligand VEGFA revealed that KDR signaling represses the testis-promoting gene Sox9 in embryonic XX gonads. WT1 knockdown abrogated the stimulatory effect of SU1498-mediated KDR inhibition on Sox9 expression. Exposure to 1% O2 to mimic the low-oxygen conditions in the embryo increased Vegfa expression but did not affect Sox9 mRNA levels in gonadal explants. However, incubation in 1% O2 in the presence of SU1498 significantly reduced Sox9 transcripts in cultured testes and increased Sox9 levels in ovaries. These findings demonstrate that both the local oxygen environment and WT1, which enhances KDR expression, contribute to sex-specific Sox9 expression in developing murine gonads.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Sox9 (Sry box containing gene 9) is a DNA-binding transcription factor involved in chondrocyte development and sex determination. The protein's absence in testicular Sertoli nurse cells has been shown to disrupt testicular function in adults but little is known at the genome-wide level about molecular events concomitant with testicular break-down. METHODS: To determine the genome-wide effect on mRNA concentrations triggered by the absence of Sox9 in Sertoli cells we analysed adult testicular tissue from wild-type versus mutant mice with high-density oligonucleotide microarrays and integrated the output of this experiment with regulatory motif predictions and protein-protein network data. RESULTS: We report the genome-wide mRNA signature of adult testes lacking Sox9 in Sertoli cells before and after the onset of late spermatogenic failure as compared to fertile controls. The GeneChip data integrated with evolutionarily conserved Sox9 DNA binding motifs and regulatory network data identified genes involved in feminization, stress response and inflammation. CONCLUSIONS: Our results extend previous observations that genes required for female gonadogenesis are up-regulated in the absence of Sox9 in fetal Sertoli cells to the adult stage. Importantly, we identify gene networks involved in immunological processes and stress response which is reminiscent of a phenomenon occurring in a sub-group of infertile men. This suggests mice lacking Sox9 in their Sertoli cells to be a potentially useful model for adult human testicular failure.
Project description:SRY (sex-determining region Y)-box 9 (SOX9) is a transcription factor regulating both chondrogenesis and sex determination. Among vertebrates, SOX9's functions in chondrogenesis are well conserved, while they vary in sex determination. To investigate the conservation of SOX9's regulatory functions in chondrogenesis and gonad development among species, we performed chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq) using developing limb buds and male gonads from embryos of two vertebrates, mouse and chicken. In both mouse and chicken, SOX9 bound to intronic and distal regions of genes more frequently in limb buds than in male gonads, while SOX9 bound to the proximal upstream regions of genes more frequently in male gonads than in limb buds. In both species, SOX palindromic repeats were identified more frequently in SOX9 binding regions in limb bud genes compared with those in male gonad genes. The conservation of SOX9 binding regions was significantly higher in limb bud genes. In addition, we combined RNA expression analysis (RNA sequencing) with the ChIP-seq results at the same stage in developing chondrocytes and Sertoli cells and determined SOX9 target genes in these cells of the two species and disclosed that SOX9 targets showed high similarity of targets in chondrocytes, but not in Sertoli cells.
Project description:The new concept of mammalian sex maintenance establishes that particular key genes must remain active in the differentiated gonads to avoid genetic sex reprogramming, as described in adult ovaries after Foxl2 ablation. Dmrt1 plays a similar role in postnatal testes, but the mechanism of adult testis maintenance remains mostly unknown. Sox9 and Sox8 are required for postnatal male fertility, but their role in the adult testis has not been investigated. Here we show that after ablation of Sox9 in Sertoli cells of adult, fertile Sox8(-/-) mice, testis-to-ovary genetic reprogramming occurs and Sertoli cells transdifferentiate into granulosa-like cells. The process of testis regression culminates in complete degeneration of the seminiferous tubules, which become acellular, empty spaces among the extant Leydig cells. DMRT1 protein only remains in non-mutant cells, showing that SOX9/8 maintain Dmrt1 expression in the adult testis. Also, Sox9/8 warrant testis integrity by controlling the expression of structural proteins and protecting Sertoli cells from early apoptosis. Concluding, this study shows that, in addition to its crucial role in testis development, Sox9, together with Sox8 and coordinately with Dmrt1, also controls adult testis maintenance.
Project description:Peptidyl arginine deiminases (PADIs) are enzymes that change the charge of proteins through citrullination. We recently found Padi2 was expressed exclusively in fetal Sertoli cells. In this study, we analyzed the transcriptional regulation of Padi2 and the role of PADI2 in testicular development. We showed SOX9 positively regulated Padi2 transcription and FOXL2 antagonized it in TM3 cells, a model of Sertoli cells. The responsive region to SOX9 and FOXL2 was identified within the Padi2 sequence by reporter assay. In fetal testes from Sox9 knockout (AMH-Cre:Sox9flox/flox) mice, Padi2 expression was greatly reduced, indicating SOX9 regulates Padi2 in vivo. In vitro analysis using siRNA suggested PADI2 modified transcriptional regulation by SOX9. However, Padi2-/- XY mice were fertile and showed no apparent reproductive anomalies. Although, PADI2 is known as an epigenetic transcriptional regulator through H3 citrullination, no significant difference in H3 citrullination between wildtype and Padi2-/- XY gonads was observed. These results suggest Padi2 is a novel gene involved in testis development that is specifically expressed in Sertoli cells through the regulation by SOX9 and FOXL2 and PADI2 supports regulation of target genes by SOX9. Analysis of the Padi2-/- XY phenotype suggested a redundant factor compensated for PADI2 function in testicular development.
Project description:Sex determination in fetal germ cells depends on a balance between exposure to retinoic acid (RA) and the degradation of RA achieved by the testis-specific expression of the catabolic cytochrome P450 enzyme, CYP26B1. Therefore, identification of factors regulating the expression of the Cyp26b1 gene is an important goal in reproductive biology. We used in situ hybridization to demonstrate that Cyp26b1 and transcription factor genes steroidogenic factor-1 (Sf1) and Sry-related HMG box 9 (Sox9) are coexpressed in Sertoli cells, whereas Cyp26b1 and Sf1 are coexpressed in Leydig cells in mouse fetal testes. In the mouse gonadal somatic cell line TM3, transfection of constructs expressing SOX9 and SF1 activated Cyp26b1 expression, independently of the positive regulator RA. In embryonic gonads deficient in SOX9 or SF1, Cyp26b1 expression was decreased relative to wild-type (WT) controls, as measured by quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR). Furthermore, qRT-PCR showed that Cyp26b1 up-regulation by SOX9/SF1 was attenuated by the ovarian transcription factor Forkhead box L2 (FOXL2) in TM3 cells, whereas in Foxl2-null mice, Cyp26b1 expression in XX gonads was increased ?20-fold relative to WT controls. These data support the hypothesis that SOX9 and SF1 ensure the male fate of germ cells by up-regulating Cyp26b1 and that FOXL2 acts to antagonize Cyp26b1 expression in ovaries.
Project description:Sertoli cells (SCs) in the mammalian testes are well known as supporting cells of spermatogenesis, but have recently become an attractive source of cell therapy because of their capacity for immune modulation and trophic effects. In order to increase their applicable efficacy, we demonstrate a novel differentiation method for mouse embryonic stem cell (ESC)-derived Sertoli-like cells (SLCs) via the intermediate mesoderm (IM). We show that IM derived from an induction of 6 days expressed markers such as Wt1, Lhx1, Pax2 and Osr1, and that a sequential induction of 6 days resulted in ESC-SLCs. The SLCs expressed their marker genes ( Sf1, Sox9, Gata4, Wt1, Fshr and Scf), but the pluripotency-marker gene Oct4 was decreased. After sorting by FSHR expression, high-purity (> 90%) SLCs were collected that showed distinct characteristics of SCs such as high phagocytic and immune modulation activities as well as the expression of immune-related genes. In addition, when transplanted into the seminiferous tubule of busulfan-treated mice, SLCs re-located and were maintained in the basal region of the tubule. These results demonstrated that our robust sequential differentiation system produced functional SLCs from mouse ESCs in vitro.
Project description:In mammals, testicular differentiation is initiated by transcription factors SRY and SOX9 in XY gonads, and ovarian differentiation involves R-spondin1 (RSPO1) mediated activation of WNT/?-catenin signaling in XX gonads. Accordingly, the absence of RSPO1/Rspo1 in XX humans and mice leads to testicular differentiation and female-to-male sex reversal in a manner that does not requireSry or Sox9 in mice. Here we show that an alternate testis-differentiating factor exists and that this factor is Sox8. Specifically, genetic ablation of Sox8 and Sox9 prevents ovarian-to-testicular reprogramming observed in XX Rspo1 loss-of-function mice. Consequently, Rspo1 Sox8 Sox9 triple mutant gonads developed as atrophied ovaries. Thus, SOX8 alone can compensate for the loss of SOX9 for Sertoli cell differentiation during female-to-male sex reversal.