Identification of a nuclear localization signal in activin/inhibin betaA subunit; intranuclear betaA in rat spermatogenic cells.
Activin is a dimeric glycoprotein hormone that was initially characterized by its ability to stimulate pituitary FSH secretion and was subsequently recognized as a growth factor with diverse biological functions in a large variety of tissues. In the testis, activin has been implicated in the auto/paracrine regulation of spermatogenesis through its cognate cell membrane receptors on Sertoli and germ cells. In this study we provide evidence for intranuclear activin/inhibin betaA subunit and show its distribution in the rat seminiferous epithelium. We have shown by transient expression in HeLa cells of beta-galactosidase fusion proteins that the betaA subunit precursor contains a functional nuclear localization signal within the lysine-rich sequence corresponding to amino acids 231-244. In all stages of the rat seminiferous epithelial cycle, an intense immunohistochemical staining of nuclear betaA was demonstrated in intermediate or type B spermatogonia or primary spermatocytes in their initial stages of the first meiotic prophase, as well as in pachytene spermatocytes and elongating spermatids primarily in stages IX-XII. In some pachytene spermatocytes, the pattern of betaA immunoreactivity was consistent with the characteristic distribution of pachytene chromosomes. In the nuclei of round spermatids, betaA immunoreactivity was less intense, and in late spermatids it was localized in the residual cytoplasm, suggesting disposal of betaA before spermatozoal maturation. Immunoblot analysis of a protein extract from isolated testicular nuclei revealed a nuclear betaA species with a molecular mass of approximately 24 kDa, which is more than 1.5 times that of the mature activin betaA subunit present in activin dimers. These results suggest that activin/inhibin betaA may elicit its biological functions through two parallel signal transduction pathways, one involving the dimeric molecule and cell surface receptors and the other an alternately processed betaA sequence acting directly within the nucleus. According to our immunohistochemical data, betaA may play a significant role in the regulation of nuclear functions during meiosis and spermiogenesis. (+info)
Effects of spinal cord injury on spermatogenesis and the expression of messenger ribonucleic acid for Sertoli cell proteins in rat Sertoli cell-enriched testes.
The study was an examination of the effects of spinal cord injury (SCI) on spermatogenesis and Sertoli cell functions in adult rats with Sertoli cell-enriched (SCE) testes. The effects of SCI on the seminiferous epithelium were characterized by abnormalities in the remaining spermatogenic cells during the first month after SCI. Three days after SCI, serum testosterone levels were 80% lower, while serum FSH and LH levels were 25% and 50% higher, respectively, than those of sham control SCE rats. At this time, the levels of mRNA for androgen receptor (AR), FSH receptor (FSH-R), and androgen-binding protein (ABP) were normal whereas those for transferrin (Trf) had decreased by 40%. Thereafter, serum testosterone levels increased, but they remained lower than those of the sham control rats 28 days after SCI; and serum FSH and LH levels returned to normal. The levels of mRNA for AR, ABP, and Trf exhibited a biphasic increase 7 days after SCI and remained elevated 28 days after SCI. FSH-R mRNA levels were also elevated 90 days after SCI. Unexpectedly, active spermatogenesis, including qualitatively complete spermatogenesis, persisted in > 40% of the tubules 90 days after SCI. These results suggest that the stem cells and/or undifferentiated spermatogonia in SCE testes are less susceptible to the deleterious effects of SCI than the normal testes and that they were able to proliferate and differentiate after SCI. The presence of elevated levels of mRNA for Sertoli cell FSH-R and AR, as well as of that for the Sertoli cell proteins, in the SCE testes during the chronic stage of SCI suggests a modification of Sertoli cell physiology. Such changes in Sertoli cell functions may provide a beneficial environment for the proliferation of the stem cells and differentiation of postmeiotic cells, thus resulting in the persistence of spermatogenesis in these testes. (+info)
hMSH5: a human MutS homologue that forms a novel heterodimer with hMSH4 and is expressed during spermatogenesis.
MutS homologues have been identified in nearly all organisms examined to date. They play essential roles in maintaining mitotic genetic fidelity and meiotic segregation fidelity. MutS homologues appear to function as a molecular switch that signals genomic manipulation events. Here we describe the identification of the human homologue of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae MSH5, which is known to participate in meiotic segregation fidelity and crossing-over. The human MSH5 (hMSH5) was localized to chromosome 6p22-21 and appears to play a role in meiosis because expression is induced during spermatogenesis between the late primary spermatocytes and the elongated spermatid phase. hMSH5 interacts specifically with hMSH4, confirming the generality of functional heterodimeric interactions in the eukaryotic MutS homologue, which also includes hMSH2-hMSH3 and hMSH2-hMSH6. (+info)
The degenerative fate of germ cells not conforming to stage in the pubertal golden hamster testis.
In the golden hamster (Mesocricetus auratus), pubertal establishment of spermatogenesis includes a defined period (d 26-30 of life) during which elongation of spermatids is selectively arrested. The resulting appearance of germ cell associations not conforming to stage and the phenomenon of desynchronisation-related germ cell degeneration are analysed both quantitatively and qualitatively by means of light and 'retrospective' electron microscopy. From d 26 onwards, the portion of tubules containing non-stage conforming germ cell associations gradually increases up to 37.5% of sectioned tubules on d 32. Concomitantly, the degree of desynchronisation rises to a maturational gap between spermatids and associated younger germ cells of 7 stages of the seminiferous epithelium cycle, i.e. of fully half a cycle. Beyond d 32, the frequency of desynchronised tubule segments decreases again. Some of the arrested round spermatids and, eventually, all belatedly elongating spermatids degenerate and are lost from the epithelium. Thus a regular maturation of advanced spermatids does not succeed under non-stage conforming conditions. Possibly it is not the desynchronisation between the associated germ cell generations and the spermatids by itself that impedes normal further development of the latter cells. Instead this may be due to the maturational delay of the stage-aberrant cells by several stages compared to the seminiferous epithelium as a whole and, especially, in relation to the stage-conditioned functional state of the neighbouring Sertoli cells. (+info)
The effects of a t-allele (tAE5) in the mouse on the lymphoid system and reproduction.
Mice homozygous for tAE5, a recessive allele at the complex T-locus, are characterized by their unique short-tailed phenotype as well as by runting and low fertility. Histological and histochemical studies of the lymphoid and reproductive systems disclosed structural changes in the mutant spleen resembling those found in autoimmune conditions. Involution of the mutant thymus was greatly accelerated compared to normal. Necrotic changes occurred during spermiogenesis whereas ovarian structure was normal in mutants. The possible mechanisms of the mutant effects are discussed in the framework of other similar syndromes and the mode of action of alleles at the complex T-locus. (+info)
Genetic analysis of viable Hsp90 alleles reveals a critical role in Drosophila spermatogenesis.
The Hsp90 chaperone protein maintains the activities of a remarkable variety of signal transducers, but its most critical functions in the context of the whole organism are unknown. Point mutations of Hsp83 (the Drosophila Hsp90 gene) obtained in two different screens are lethal as homozygotes. We report that eight transheterozygous mutant combinations produce viable adults. All exhibit the same developmental defects: sterile males and sterile or weakly fertile females. We also report that scratch, a previously identified male-sterile mutation, is an allele of Hsp82 with a P-element insertion in the intron that reduces expression. Thus, it is a simple reduction in Hsp90 function, rather than possible altered functions in the point mutants, that leads to male sterility. As shown by light and electron microscopy, all stages of spermatogenesis involving microtubule function are affected, from early mitotic divisions to later stages of sperm maturation, individualization, and motility. Aberrant microtubules are prominent in yeast cells carrying mutations in HSP82 (the yeast Hsp90 gene), confirming that Hsp90 function is connected to microtubule dynamics and that this connection is highly conserved. A small fraction of Hsp90 copurifies with taxol-stabilized microtubule proteins in Drosophila embryo extracts, but Hsp90 does not remain associated with microtubules through repeated temperature-induced assembly and disassembly reactions. If the spermatogenesis phenotypes are due to defects in microtubule dynamics, we suggest these are indirect, reflecting a role for Hsp90 in maintaining critical signal transduction pathways and microtubule effectors, rather than a direct role in the assembly and disassembly of microtubules themselves. (+info)
Y chromosome and male infertility.
Recent genome analysis of the Y chromosome has increased the number of genes found on this chromosome markedly. Many of these genes in the part of the Y chromosome that does not undergo recombination with the X chromosome are members of gene families. Evolutionary considerations imply that genes on the Y chromosome will degenerate unless they have male advantageous or female deleterious functions. Spermatogenesis is an example of a male advantageous function and genes in three regions of the human Y chromosome have been promoted as candidate male fertility factors. (+info)
Role of heat shock protein HSP70-2 in spermatogenesis.
The HSP70 heat-shock proteins are molecular chaperones that assist other proteins in their folding, transport and assembly into complexes. Most of these proteins are either constitutively expressed or their expression is induced by heat shock and other stresses. However, two members of the Hsp70 family (HSP70-2 and HSC70T in mice) are regulated developmentally and expressed specifically in spermatogenic cells. The HSP70-2 protein is synthesized during the meiotic phase of spermatogenesis and is abundant in pachytene spermatocytes. The knockout approach was used to determine whether HSP70-2 is a chaperone for proteins involved in meiosis. Male mice lacking HSP70-2 were infertile while females lacking HSP70-2 were fertile. Spermatogenic cell development was arrested in prophase of meiosis I at the G2-M-phase transition and late pachytene spermatocytes were eliminated by apoptosis, resulting in an absence of spermatids. HSP70-2 is required for Cdc2 to form a heterodimer with cyclin B1, suggesting that it is a chaperone necessary for the progression of meiosis in the germ cells of male mice. HSP70-2 is also associated with the synaptonemal complex and desynapsis is disrupted in male mice lacking this protein. Homologues of HSP70-2 are present in the testes of many animals, suggesting that the role of this spermatogenic cell chaperone is conserved across phyla. (+info)