Avian gametes present specific features related to their internal long-term mode of fertilization. Among other central actors of energetic metabolism control, it has been suspected that 5'-AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) influences sperm functions and thus plays a key role in fertilization success. In the present work, we studied AMPK localization and function in chicken sperm incubated in vitro. Effects of the pharmacological AMPK activators (AICAR, metformin) and the AMPK inhibitor compound C were assessed by evaluating AMPKalpha (Thr(172)) phosphorylation (by Western blotting), semen quality (by viability, motility, and ability to perform acrosome reaction), and energetic metabolism indicators (lactate, ATP). Localization of AMPK in subcellular sperm compartments was evaluated by immunocytochemistry. Total AMPK was found in all compartments except for the nucleus, but the phosphorylated form phospho-Thr(172) -AMPK was essentially localized in the flagellum and acrosome. AMPK activators significantly improved AMPK phosphorylation, sperm motility (increased by 40% motile, 90% progressive, and 60% rapid sperm), acrosome reaction and lactate production (increased by 40%) and viability. The AMPK inhibitor significantly reduced AMPK phosphorylation and percentages of motility (decrease by 25%), progressive energy (decrease by 35%), and rapid sperm (decreased by 30%), acrosome reaction, lactate production, and ATP release. The two activators differed in their effect on ATP concentration: AICAR stimulated ATP formation, whereas metformin did not. Our results indicate that AMPK plays a key role in the regulation of chicken sperm functions and metabolism. This action differs from that suggested in mammals, mainly by its crucial involvement in the acrosome reaction process.
Mammalian spermatogenesis is a complex and highly orchestrated combination of processes in which male germline proliferation and differentiation result in the production of mature spermatozoa. If recent genome-wide studies have contributed to the in-depth analysis of the male germline protein-encoding transcriptome, little effort has yet been devoted to the systematic identification of novel unannotated transcribed regions expressed during mammalian spermatogenesis. We report high-resolution expression profiling of male germ cells in rat, using next-generation sequencing technology and highly enriched testicular cell populations. Among 20 424 high-confidence transcripts reconstructed, we defined a stringent set of 1419 long multi-exonic unannotated transcripts expressed in the testis (testis-expressed unannotated transcripts [TUTs]). TUTs were divided into 7 groups with different expression patterns. Most TUTs share many of the characteristics of vertebrate long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs). We also markedly reinforced the finding that TUTs and known lncRNAs accumulate during the meiotic and postmeiotic stages of spermatogenesis in mammals and that X-linked meiotic TUTs do not escape the silencing effects of meiotic sex chromosome inactivation. Importantly, we discovered that TUTs and known lncRNAs with a peak expression during meiosis define a distinct class of noncoding transcripts that exhibit exons twice as long as those of other transcripts. Our study provides new insights in transcriptional profiling of the male germline and represents a highquality resource for novel loci expressed during spermatogenesis that significantly contributes to rat genome annotation.
Spermatogenesis is a complex process, dependent upon the successive activation and/or repression of thousands of gene products, and ends with the production of haploid male gametes. RNA sequencing of male germ cells in the rat identified thousands of novel testicular unannotated transcripts (TUTs). Although such RNAs are usually annotated as long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs), it is possible that some of these TUTs code for protein. To test this possibility, we used a "proteomics informed by transcriptomics'' (PIT) strategy combining RNA sequencing data with shotgun proteomics analyses of spermatocytes and spermatids in the rat. Among 3559 TUTs and 506 lncRNAs found in meiotic and postmeiotic germ cells, 44 encoded at least one peptide. We showed that these novel high-confidence protein-coding loci exhibit several genomic features intermediate between those of lncRNAs and mRNAs. We experimentally validated the testicular expression pattern of two of these novel protein-coding gene candidates, both highly conserved in mammals: one for a vesicle-associated membrane protein we named VAMP-9, and the other for an enolase domain-containing protein. This study confirms the potential of PIT approaches for the discovery of protein-coding transcripts initially thought to be untranslated or unknown transcripts. Our results contribute to the understanding of spermatogenesis by characterizing two novel proteins, implicated by their strong expression in germ cells. The mass spectrometry proteomics data have been deposited with the ProteomeXchange Consortium under the data set identifier PXD000872.
FOXL2 loss of function in goats leads to the early trans-differentiation of ovaries into testes, then to the full sex reversal of XX homozygous mutants. By contrast, Foxl2 loss of function in mice induces an arrest of follicle formation after birth, followed by complete female sterility. In order to understand the molecular role of FOXL2 during ovarian differentiation in the goat species, putative FOXL2 target genes were determined at the earliest stage of gonadal sex-specific differentiation by comparing the mRNA profiles of XX gonads expressing the FOXL2 protein or not. Of these 163 deregulated genes, around two-thirds corresponded to testicular genes that were up-regulated when FOXL2 was absent, and only 19 represented female-associated genes, down-regulated in the absence of FOXL2. FOXL2 should therefore be viewed as an antitestis gene rather than as a female-promoting gene. In particular, the key testis-determining gene DMRT1 was found to be up-regulated ahead of SOX9, thus suggesting in goats that SOX9 primary up-regulation may require DMRT1. Overall, our results equated to FOXL2 being an antitestis gene, allowing us to propose an alternative model for the sex-determination process in goats that differs slightly from that demonstrated in mice.
ABSTRACT Previous reports have demonstrated that embryonic stem cells were capable of differentiating into primordial germ cells through the formation of embryoid bodies that subsequently generated oocyte-like cells (OLCs). Such a process could facilitate studies of primordial follicle oocyte development in vitro and regenerative medicine. To investigate the pluripotency of human amniotic fluid stem cells (hAFSCs) and their ability to differentiate into germ cells, we isolated a CD117+/CD44+ hAFSC line that showed fibroblastoid morphology and intrinsically expressed both stem cell markers (OCT4, NANOG, SOX2) and germ cell markers (DAZL, STELLA). To encourage differentiation into OLCs, the hAFSCs were first cultured in a medium supplemented with 5% porcine follicular fluid for 10 days. During the induction period, cell aggregates formed and syntheses of steroid hormones were detected; some OLCs and granulosa cell-like cells could be loosened from the surface of the culture dish. Cell aggregates were collec...
Bone morphogenetic protein 15 (BMP15) and growth and differentiation factor 9 (GDF9) are TGFbeta-like oocyte-derived growth factors involved in ovarian folliculogenesis as critical regulators of many granulosa cell processes and ovulation rate. Ovarian phenotypic effect caused by alterations in BMP15 and GDF9 genes appears to differ between species and may be relevant to their mono-or polyovulating status. Through phylogenetic analysis we recently showed that these two paralogous genes are strongly divergent and in rapid evolution as compared to other members of the TGFbeta superfamily. Here, we evaluate the amino acid substitution rates of a set of proteins implicated in the ovarian function, including BMP15 and GDF9, with special attention to the mono-or polyovulating status of the species. Among a panel of mono-and polyovulating mammals, we demonstrate a better conservation of some areas in BMP15 and GDF9 within mono-ovulating species. Homology modeling of BMP15 and GDF9 homodimer and heterodimer 3-D structures was suggestive that these areas may be involved in dimer formation and stability. A phylogenetic study of BMP15/GDF9-related proteins reveals that these two genes diverged from the same ancestral gene along with BMP3 and GDF10, two other paralogous genes. A substitution rate analysis based on this phylogenetic tree leads to the hypothesis of an acquisition of BMP15/GDF9-specific functions in ovarian folliculogenesis in mammals. We propose that high variations observed in specific areas of BMP15 and GDF9 in polyovulating species change the equilibrium between homodimers and heterodimers, modifying the biological activity and thus allowing polyovulation to occur.
Several aspects of equine ovarian physiology are unique among domestic species. Moreover, follicular growth patterns are very similar between horses and humans. This study aimed to characterize, for the first time, global gene expression profiles associated with growth and preovulatory (PO) maturation of equine dominant follicles. Granulosa cells (GCs) and theca interna cells (TCs) were harvested from follicles (n = 5) at different stages of an ovulatory wave in mares corresponding to early dominance (ED; diameter >= 22 mm), late dominance (LD; >= 33 mm) and PO stage (34 h after administration of crude equine gonadotropins at LD stage), and separately analyzed on a horse gene expression microarray, followed by validation using quantitative PCR and immunoblotting/immunohistochemistry. Numbers of differentially expressed transcripts (DETs; >2-fold; P < 0.05) during the ED-LD and LD-PO transitions were 546 and 2419 in GCs and 5 and 582 in TCs. The most prominent change in GCs was the down-regulation of transcripts associated with cell division during both ED-LD and LD-PO. In addition, DET sets during LD-PO in GCs were enriched for genes involved in cell communication/adhesion, antioxidation/detoxification, immunity/inflammation, and cholesterol biosynthesis. In contrast, the largest change in TCs during the LD-PO transition was an upregulation of genes involved in immune activation, with other DET sets mapping to GPCR/cAMP signaling, lipid/amino acid metabolism, and cell proliferation/survival and differentiation. In conclusion, distinct expression profiles were identified between growing and PO follicles and, particularly, between GCs and TCs within each stage. Several DETs were identified that have not been associated with follicle development in other species.
Transcription factor GATA4 is required for the development and function of the mammalian gonads. We first reported that the GATA4 gene in both human and rodents is expressed as two major alternative transcripts that differ solely in their first untranslated exon (exon 1a vs. exon 1b). We had also showed by quantitative PCR that in mouse tissues, both Gata4 exon 1a- and 1b-containing transcripts are present in all sites that are normally positive for GATA4 protein. In adult tissues, exon 1a-containing transcripts generally predominate. A notable exception, however, is the testis where the Gata4 exon 1a and 1b transcripts exhibit a similar level of expression. We now confirm by in situ hybridization analysis that each transcript is also strongly expressed during gonad differentiation in both sexes in the rat. To gain further insights into how Gata4 gene expression is controlled, we characterized the mouse Gata4 promoter sequence located upstream of exon 1b. In vitro studies revealed that the Gata4 1b promoter is less active than the 1a promoter in several gonadal cell lines tested. Whereas we have previously shown that endogenous Gata4 transcription driven by the 1a promoter is dependent on a proximally located Ebox motif, we now show using complementary in vitro and in vivo approaches that Gata4 promoter 1b-directed expression is regulated by GATA4 itself. Thus, Gata4 transcription in the gonads and other tissues is ensured by distinct promoters that are regulated differentially and independently.
Kisspeptin has emerged as the most potent gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) secretagogue and appears to represent the penultimate step in the central control of reproduction. In the sheep, we showed that kisspeptin could be used to manipulate gonadotropin secretion and control ovulation. Prompted by these results, we decided to investigate whether kisspeptin could be used as an ovulation-inducing agent in another photoperiodic domestic mammal, the horse. Equine kisspeptin-10 (eKp10) was administered intravenously as bolus injections or short-to long-term perfusions to Welsh pony mares, either during the anestrus season or at various stages of the cycle during the breeding season. In all the experimental conditions, eKp10 reliably increased peripheral concentrations of both luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. The nature of the response to eKp10 was consistent across experimental conditions and physiological states: the increase in gonadotropins was always rapid and essentially transient even when eKp10 was perfused for prolonged periods. Furthermore, eKp10 consistently failed to induce ovulation in the mare. To gain insights into the underlying mechanisms, we used acute injections or perfusions of GnRH. We also cloned the equine orthologues of the kisspeptin precursor and Kiss1r; this was justified by the facts that the current equine genome assembly predicted an amino acid difference between eKp10 and Kp10 in other species while an equine orthologue for Kiss1r was missing altogether. In light of these findings, potential reasons for the divergence in the response to kisspeptin between ewe and mare are discussed. Our data highlight that kisspeptin is not a universal ovulation-inducing agent.