The Caenorhabditis elegans sex determination gene mog-1 encodes a member of the DEAH-Box protein family.
In the Caenorhabditis elegans hermaphrodite germ line, the sex-determining gene fem-3 is repressed posttranscriptionally to arrest spermatogenesis and permit oogenesis. This repression requires a cis-acting regulatory element in the fem-3 3' untranslated region; the FBF protein, which binds to this element; and at least six mog genes. In this paper, we report the molecular characterization of mog-1 as well as additional phenotypic characterization of this gene. The mog-1 gene encodes a member of the DEAH-box family. Three mog-1 alleles possess premature stop codons and are likely to be null alleles, and one is a missense mutation and is likely to retain residual activity. mog-1 mRNA is expressed in both germ line and somatic tissues and appears to be ubiquitous. The MOG-1 DEAH-box protein is most closely related to proteins essential for splicing in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, but splicing appears to occur normally in a mog-1-null mutant. In addition to its involvement in the sperm-oocyte switch and control of fem-3, zygotic mog-1 is required for robust germ line proliferation and for normal growth during development. We suggest that mog-1 plays a broader role in RNA regulation than previously considered. (+info)
Bmp4 is required for the generation of primordial germ cells in the mouse embryo.
In many organisms the allocation of primordial germ cells (PGCs) is determined by the inheritance of maternal factors deposited in the egg. However, in mammals, inductive cell interactions are required around gastrulation to establish the germ line. Here, we show that Bmp4 homozygous null embryos contain no PGCs. They also lack an allantois, an extraembryonic mesodermal tissue derived, like the PGCs, from precursors in the proximal epiblast. Heterozygotes have fewer PGCs than normal, due to a reduction in the size of the founding population and not to an effect on its subsequent expansion. Analysis of beta-galactosidase activity in Bmp4(lacZneo) embryos reveals that prior to gastrulation, Bmp4 is expressed in the extraembryonic ectoderm. Later, Bmp4 is expressed in the extraembryonic mesoderm, but not in PGCs. Chimera analysis indicates that it is the Bmp4 expression in the extraembryonic ectoderm that regulates the formation of allantois and primordial germ cell precursors, and the size of the founding population of PGCs. The initiation of the germ line in the mouse therefore depends on a secreted signal from the previously segregated, extraembryonic, trophectoderm lineage. (+info)
Germ cell development in the XXY mouse: evidence that X chromosome reactivation is independent of sexual differentiation.
Prior to entry into meiosis, XX germ cells in the fetal ovary undergo X chromosome reactivation. The signal for reactivation is thought to emanate from the genital ridge, but it is unclear whether it is specific to the developing ovary. To determine whether the signals are present in the developing testis as well as the ovary, we examined the expression of X-linked genes in germ cells from XXY male mice. To facilitate this analysis, we generated XXY and XX fetuses carrying X chromosomes that were differentially marked and subject to nonrandom inactivation. This pattern of nonrandom inactivation was maintained in somatic cells but, in XX as well as XXY fetuses, both parental alleles were expressed in germ cell-enriched cell populations. Because testis differentiation is temporally and morphologically normal in the XXY testis and because all germ cells embark upon a male pathway of development, these results provide compelling evidence that X chromosome reactivation in fetal germ cells is independent of the somatic events of sexual differentiation. Proper X chromosome dosage is essential for the normal fertility of male mammals, and abnormalities in germ cell development are apparent in the XXY testis within several days of X reactivation. Studies of exceptional germ cells that survive in the postnatal XXY testis demonstrated that surviving germ cells are exclusively XY and result from rare nondisjunctional events that give rise to clones of XY cells. (+info)
Ialpha exon-replacement mice synthesize a spliced HPRT-C(alpha) transcript which may explain their ability to switch to IgA. Inhibition of switching to IgG in these mice.
Antibody class switching is regulated by transcription of unrearranged C(H) genes to produce germline (GL) transcripts which direct the choice of isotype and are required for switching. However, their role is unknown. GL transcripts are initiated at the I exons located upstream of each switch region. Although deletion of the I exon by gene targeting prevents switch recombination to that CH gene, the Ialpha exon can be replaced by an entirely different DNA segment, a minigene driven by the phosphoglycerate kinase (PGK) promoter and encoding hypoxanthine phosphoribosyl transferase (HPRT), oriented in the sense direction, without reducing antibody class switching to IgA. To understand why HPRT substitution of the Ialpha exon does not disrupt switch recombination, we have analyzed the structure of the transcript from the targeted allele in these mice. We identify a spliced transcript in which the HPRT exons are spliced to the C(alpha) gene segments, resulting in a structure similar to normal GL transcripts. The abundance of this transcript is similar to that of the normal alpha GL RNA. We also demonstrate that switching to the four IgG subclasses in B cells from these mice is reduced in comparison to wild-type mice. We discuss the possibility that the strong PGK promoter inserted at the Ig alpha locus may interfere with interaction of the promoters for gamma GL transcripts with the 3' IgH enhancer. (+info)
Production of donor-derived offspring by transfer of primordial germ cells in Japanese quail.
We transfused concentrated primordial germ cells (PGCs) of the black strain (D: homozygous for the autosomal incomplete dominant gene, D) of quail into the embryos of the wild-type plumage strain (WP: d+/d+) of quail. The recipient quail were raised until sexual maturity and a progeny test of the putative germline chimeras was performed to examine the donor gamete-derived offspring (D/d+). Thirty-one percent (36/115) of the transfused quail hatched and 21 (13 females and 8 males) of them reached maturity. Five females and 2 males were germline chimeras producing donor gamete-derived offspring. Transmission rates of the donor derived gametes in the chimeric females and males were 1.8-8.3% and 2.6-63.0%, respectively. Germline chimeric and the other putative chimeric males were also test-mated with females from the sex-linked imperfect albino strain (AL: d+/d+, al/W, where al indicates the sex-linked imperfect albino gene on the Z chromosome, and W indicates the W chromosome) for autosexing of W-bearing spermatozoa: No albino offspring were born. (+info)
Histone ubiquitination and chromatin remodeling in mouse spermatogenesis.
Male infertility in HR6B knockout mice is associated with impairment of spermatogenesis. The HR6B gene is a mammalian, autosomal homolog of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae gene Rad6 encoding a ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme. In addition, X-chromosomal HR6A has been identified, in human and mouse. RAD6 in yeast is required for a variety of cellular functions, including sporulation, DNA repair, and mutagenesis. Since RAD6 and its mammalian homologs can ubiquitinate histones in vitro, we have investigated the pattern of histone ubiquitination in mouse testis. By immunoblot and immunohistochemical analysis of wild-type mouse testis, a high amount of ubiquitinated H2A (uH2A) was detected in pachytene spermatocytes. This signal became undetectable in round spermatids, but then increased again during a relatively short developmental period, in elongating spermatids. No other ubiquitinated histones were observed. In the HR6B knockout mice, we failed to detect an overt defect in the overall pattern of histone ubiquitination. For somatic cell types, it has been shown that histone ubiquitination is associated with destabilization of nucleosomes, in relation to active gene transcription. Unexpectedly, the most intense uH2A signal in pachytene spermatocytes was detected in the sex body, an inactive nuclear structure that contains the heterochromatic X and Y chromosomes. The postmeiotic uH2A immunoexpression in elongating spermatids indicates that nucleosome destabilization induced by histone ubiquitination may play a facilitating role during histone-to-protamine replacement. (+info)
Activin and TGFbeta limit murine primordial germ cell proliferation.
Mammalian primordial germ cells (PGCs) proliferate as they migrate from their initial location in the extraembryonic mesoderm to the genital ridge, the gonadal anlage. Once in the genital ridge, PGCs cease dividing and differentiate according to their gender. To identify ligands that might limit PGC proliferation, we analyzed growth factor receptors encoded in RNA obtained from purified germ cells shortly after their arrival in the genital ridge. Receptors for two members of the TGFbeta superfamily were found, TGFbeta1 and activin. As the signal-transducing domains of both receptor systems are highly conserved, the effects of both TGFbeta1 and activin on PGCs would be expected to be similar. We found that both ligands limited the accumulation of germ cells in primary PGC cultures. BrdU incorporation assays demonstrated that either ligand inhibits PGC proliferation. These results suggest that these signal transduction pathways are important elements of the mechanism that determines germ cell endowment. (+info)
A novel quantitative morphometry of germ cells for the histopathological evaluation of rat testicular toxicity.
A view that 14 stages of rat spermatogenic cycle could be arranged into 4 groups, viz., conventional stages I-VI, VII-VIII, IX-XI and XII-XIV, according to the features of elongated spermatids was previously presented. A novel morphometry of seminiferous epithelia based on these 4 groups was also proposed. In the present study, utility of the proposed morphometry in the histopathological evaluations of testicular toxicities was monitored in comparison with the conventional one. After administrating adriamycin, ethylene glycol monomethyl ether or 1,3-dinitrobenzene to rats, the viability of their germ cells was estimated by the proposed morphometry and the conventional one employed stages II-III, V, VII, X and XII. In every case, the evaluating results of the proposed morphometry were similar to those of the conventional one. Thus, it was verified that the proposed morphometry was identical with the conventional one in respect of reliable detection of the testicular toxicities. In addition, in situ terminal dUTP nick end labeling indicated that death of spermatogonia, pachytene spermatocytes or round spermatids induced by the above 3 toxic compounds was exclusively apoptotic death. In conclusion, the proposed morphometry would be useful as a practical tool in the evaluation of testicular toxicities. (+info)