ZFP628 Is a TAF4b-Interacting Transcription Factor Required for Mouse Spermiogenesis.
ABSTRACT: TAF4b is a subunit of the TFIID complex that is highly expressed in the ovary and testis and required for mouse fertility. TAF4b-deficient male mice undergo a complex series of developmental defects that result in the inability to maintain long-term spermatogenesis. To decipher the transcriptional mechanisms upon which TAF4b functions in spermatogenesis, we used two-hybrid screening to identify a novel TAF4b-interacting transcriptional cofactor, ZFP628. Deletion analysis of both proteins reveals discrete and novel domains of ZFP628 and TAF4b protein that function to bridge their direct interaction in vitro Moreover, coimmunoprecipitation of ZFP628 and TAF4b proteins in testis-derived protein extracts supports their endogenous association. Using CRISPR-Cas9, we disrupted the expression of ZFP628 in the mouse and uncovered a postmeiotic germ cell arrest at the round spermatid stage in the seminiferous tubules of the testis in ZFP628-deficient mice that results in male infertility. Coincident with round spermatid arrest, we find reduced mRNA expression of transition protein (Tnp1 and Tnp2) and protamine (Prm1 and Prm2) genes, which are critical for the specialized maturation of haploid male germ cells called spermiogenesis. These data delineate a novel association of two transcription factors, TAF4b and ZFP628, and identify ZFP628 as a novel transcriptional regulator of stage-specific spermiogenesis.
Project description:Long-term mammalian spermatogenesis requires proper development of spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) that replenish the testis with germ cell progenitors during adult life. TAF4b is a gonadal-enriched component of the general transcription factor complex, TFIID, which is required for the maintenance of spermatogenesis in the mouse. Successful germ cell transplantation assays into adult TAF4b-deficient host testes suggested that TAF4b performs an essential germ cell autonomous function in SSC establishment and/or maintenance. To elucidate the SSC function of TAF4b, we characterized the initial gonocyte pool and rounds of spermatogenic differentiation in the context of the Taf4b-deficient mouse testis. Here, we demonstrate a significant reduction in the late embryonic gonocyte pool and a deficient expansion of this pool soon after birth. Resulting from this reduction of germ cell progenitors is a developmental delay in meiosis initiation, as compared to age-matched controls. While GFR?1+ spermatogonia are appropriately present as Asingle and Apaired in wild-type testes, TAF4b-deficient testes display an increased proportion of long and clustered chains of GFR?1+ cells. In the absence of TAF4b, seminiferous tubules in the adult testis either lack germ cells altogether or are found to have missing generations of spermatogenic progenitor cells. Together these data indicate that TAF4b-deficient spermatogenic progenitor cells display a tendency for differentiation at the expense of self-renewal and a renewing pool of SSCs fail to establish during the critical window of SSC development.
Project description:Male infertility is a major and growing problem and, in most cases, the specific root cause is unknown. Here we show that the transcription factor SOX30 plays a critical role in mouse spermatogenesis. Sox30-null mice are healthy and females are fertile, but males are sterile. In the absence of Sox30 meiosis initiates normally in both sexes but, in males, germ cell development arrests during the post-meiotic round spermatid period. In the mutant testis, acrosome and axoneme development are aberrant, multinucleated germ cells (symplasts) form and round spermatids unable to process beyond step 3 of spermiogenesis. No elongated spermatids nor spermatozoa are produced. Thus, Sox30 represents a rare example of a gene for which loss of function results in a complete arrest of spermatogenesis at the onset of spermiogenesis. Our results suggest that SOX30 mutations may underlie some instances of unexplained non-obstructive azoospermia in humans.
Project description:Spermatogenesis is precisely controlled by complex gene expression programs and involves epigenetic reprogramming, including histone modification and DNA methylation. SET domain-containing 2 (SETD2) is the predominant histone methyltransferase catalyzing the trimethylation of histone H3 lysine 36 (H3K36me3) and plays key roles in embryonic stem cell differentiation and somatic cell development. However, its role in male germ cell development remains elusive. Here, we demonstrate an essential role of Setd2 for spermiogenesis, the final stage of spermatogenesis. Using RNA-seq, we found that, in postnatal mouse testes, Setd2 mRNA levels dramatically increase in 14-day-old mice. Using a germ cell-specific Setd2 knockout mouse model, we also found that targeted Setd2 knockout in germ cells causes aberrant spermiogenesis with acrosomal malformation before step 8 of the round-spermatid stage, resulting in complete infertility. Furthermore, we noted that the Setd2 deficiency results in complete loss of H3K36me3 and significantly decreases expression of thousands of genes, including those encoding acrosin-binding protein 1 (Acrbp1) and protamines, required for spermatogenesis. Our findings thus reveal a previously unappreciated role of the SETD2-dependent H3K36me3 modification in spermiogenesis and provide clues to the molecular mechanisms in epigenetic disorders underlying male infertility.
Project description:Gonadotropin-regulated testicular RNA helicase (GRTH/Ddx25), a member of the DEAD-box protein family, is a testis-specific gonadotropin-regulated RNA helicase that is present in Leydig cells and germ cells (meiotic spermatocytes and spermatids). In this study, we observed that GRTH is present in the nucleus, cytoplasm and chromatoid body of germ cells, and is an integral component of messenger ribonuclear protein particles. Male mice with a null mutation in the GRTH gene displayed normal gonadotropin and androgen profiles. However, they were sterile, with azoospermia caused by a complete arrest of spermiogenesis at step 8 of round spermatids and failure to elongate. Round spermatids of the null mice showed marked diminution in the size of chromatoid bodies. The transcription of relevant messages was not altered, but their translation was abrogated in a selective manner. Protein expression of transition proteins 1 and 2 and angiotensin-converting enzyme was completely absent, whereas that of the transcriptional activator cAMP responsive element modulator was intact. These findings indicate that GRTH participates in translational-associated events during germ cell development. Although significant apoptosis was present at the metaphase of meiosis in the GRTH-null mice, spermatogenesis proceeded to step 8 of spermiogenesis when complete arrest occurred. This progression may relate to compensatory gene function(s) and/or the observed up-regulation of DNA repair proteins Rad51 and Dmc1. This study (i) demonstrates that GRTH is essential for completion of spermatogenesis, (ii) provides insights into intrinsic requirements for spermiogenesis, and (iii) establishes a model for studies of male infertility and contraception.
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: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:DDB1- and CUL4-associated factor 17 (Dcaf17) is a member of DCAF family genes that encode substrate receptor proteins for Cullin-RING E3 ubiquitin ligases, which play critical roles in many cellular processes. To unravel the function of DCAF17, we performed expression profiling of Dcaf17 in different tissues of wild type mouse by qRT-PCR and generated Dcaf17 knockout mice by gene targeting. Expression profiling of Dcaf17 showed highest expression in testis. Analyses of Dcaf17 transcripts during post-natal development of testis at different ages displayed gradual increase in Dcaf17 mRNA levels with the age. Although Dcaf17 disruption did not have any effect on female fertility, Dcaf17 deletion led to male infertility due to abnormal sperm development. The Dcaf17 -/- mice produced low number of sperm with abnormal shape and significantly low motility. Histological examination of the Dcaf17 -/- testis revealed impaired spermatogenesis with presence of vacuoles and sloughed cells in the seminiferous tubules. Disruption of Dcaf17 caused asymmetric acrosome capping, impaired nuclear compaction and abnormal round spermatid to elongated spermatid transition. For the first time, these data indicate that DCAF17 is essential for spermiogenesis.
Project description:Spermiogenesis entails a major biochemical and morphological restructuring of the germ cell involving replacement of the somatic histones by protamines packing the DNA into the condensed spermatid nucleus and elimination of the cytoplasm during the elongation phase. We describe H1T2, an histone H1 variant selectively and transiently expressed in male haploid germ cells during spermiogenesis. In round and elongating spermatids, H1T2 specifically localizes to a chromatin domain at the apical pole, revealing a polarity in the spermatid nucleus. Inactivation by homologous recombination shows that H1T2 is critical for spermiogenesis as male H1t2(-/-) mice have greatly reduced fertility. Analysis of spermiogenesis in H1t2 mutant mice shows delayed nuclear condensation and aberrant elongation. As a result, mutant spermatids are characterized by the presence of residual cytoplasm, acrosome detachment, and fragmented DNA. Hence, H1T2 is a protein required for proper cell restructuring and DNA condensation during the elongation phase of spermiogenesis.
Project description:Mammalian spermiogenesis is of considerable biological interest especially due to the unique chromatin remodeling events that take place during spermatid maturation. Here, we have studied the expression of chromatin remodeling factors in different spermatogenic stages and narrowed it down to bromodomain, testis-specific (Brdt) as a key molecule participating in chromatin remodeling during rat spermiogenesis. Our immunocytochemistry experiments reveal that Brdt colocalizes with acetylated H4 in elongating spermatids. Remodeling assays showed an acetylation-dependent but ATP-independent chromatin reorganization property of Brdt in haploid round spermatids. Furthermore, Brdt interacts with Smarce1, a member of the SWI/SNF family. We have studied the genomic organization of smarce1 and identified that it has two splice variants expressed during spermatogenesis. The N terminus of Brdt is involved in the recognition of Smarce1 as well as in the reorganization of hyperacetylated round spermatid chromatin. Interestingly, the interaction between Smarce1 and Brdt increases dramatically upon histone hyperacetylation both in vitro and in vivo. Thus, our results indicate this interaction to be a vital step in the chromatin remodeling process during mammalian spermiogenesis.