Genetic and environmental factors produce different levels of DNA damage in spermatozoa. Usually, DNA-fragmented spermatozoa (DFS) are used with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) treatments in human reproduction, and use of DFS is still a matter of concern. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the long-term consequences on development and behavior of mice generated by ICSI with DFS. Using CD1 and B6D2F1 mouse strains, oocytes were injected with fresh spermatozoa or with frozen-thawed spermatozoa without cryoprotector. This treatment increased the percentage of TUNEL-positive spermatozoa, tail length as measured by comet assay, and loss of telomeres as measured by quantitative PCR. The ICSI-generated embryos were cultured for 24 h in KSOM, and 2-cell embryos were transferred into CD1 females. The DFS reduced both the rate of preimplantation embryo development and number of offspring. Immunofluorescence staining with an antibody against 5-methylcytosine showed a delay of 2 h on the active demethylation of male pronucleus in the embryos produced by ICSI. Moreover, ICSI affected gene transcription and methylation of some epigenetically regulated genes like imprinting, X-linked genes, and retrotransposon genes. At 3 and 12 mo of age, ICSI with DFS-produced animals and in vivo-fertilized controls were submitted to behavioral tests: locomotor activity (open field), exploratory/anxiety behavior (elevated plus maze, open field), and spatial memory (free-choice exploration paradigm in Y maze). Females produced by ICSI showed increased anxiety, lack of habituation pattern, deficit in short-term spatial memory, and age-dependent hypolocomotion in the open-field test ( P < 0.05). Postnatal weight gain of mice produced by ICSI with fresh or frozen sperm was higher than that of their control counterparts from 16 wk on ( P < 0.01). Anatomopathological analysis of animals at 16 mo of age showed some large organs and an increase in pathologies (33% of CD1 females produced with DFS presented some solid tumors in lungs and dermis of back or neck). Moreover, 20% of the B6D2F1 mice generated with DFS died during the first 5 mo of life, with 25% of the surviving animals showing premature aging symptoms, and 70% of the B6D2F1 mice generated with DFS died earlier than controls with different kind of tumors. We propose that depending on the level of DFS, oocytes may partially repair fragmented DNA, producing blastocysts able to implant and produce live offspring. The incomplete repair, however, may lead to long-term pathologies. Our data indicate that use of DFS in ICSI can generate effects that only emerge during later life, such as aberrant growth, premature aging, abnormal behavior, and mesenchymal tumors.
The Nile tilapia, a gonochoristic teleost fish with an XX/XY sex-determining system, provides an excellent model for studying gonadal sex differentiation because genetic all-females and all-males are available. In this study, we used quantitative real-time RT-PCR to determine the precise timing of the gonadal expression of 17 genes thought to be associated with gonadal sex differentiation in vertebrates. Gonads were isolated from all-female and all-male tilapia before (5â15 days after hatching [dah]) and after (25â70 dah) morphological sex differentiation. The transcript of aromatase ( cyp19a1a ), an enzyme responsible for producing estradiol-17beta, was expressed only in XX gonads at 5 dah, with a marked elevation in expression thereafter. In contrast, mRNA expression of steroid 11beta-hydroxylase ( cyp11b2 ), an enzyme responsible for the synthesis of 11-ketotestosterone (11-KT, a potent androgen in fish), was found in XY gonads from 35 dah only. These results, combined with the presence of transcripts for other steroidogenic enzymes and estrogen receptors in XX gonads at 5â7 dah, are consistent with our earlier suggestion that estradiol-17beta plays a critical role in ovarian differentiation in tilapia, whereas a role for 11-KT in testicular differentiation is questionable. A close relationship between the expression of foxl2 , but not nr5a1 (Ad4BP/SF-1), and that of cyp19a1a in XX gonads suggests an important role for Foxl2 in the transcriptional regulation of cyp19a1a . Dmrt1 exhibited a male-specific expression in XY gonads from 6 dah onward, suggesting an important role for Dmrt1 in testicular differentiation. Sox9 and amh (anti-Mullerian hormone) showed a testis-specific expression, being evident only in the later stages of testicular differentiation. It is concluded that the sex-specific expression of foxl2 and cyp19a1a in XX gonads and dmrt1 in XY gonads during early gonadal differentiation (5â6 dah) is critical for undifferentiated gonads to differentiate into either the ovary or testis in the Nile tilapia.
Methods to predict numbers of healthy oocytes in the ovaries of young adults could have important diagnostic relevance in family planning and animal agriculture. We have observed that peak antral follicle count (AFC) determined by serial ovarian ultrasonography during follicular waves is very highly reproducible within individual young adult cattle, despite 7-fold variation among animals. Herein, we tested the hypothesis that AFC is positively associated with the number of morphologically healthy oocytes and follicles in ovaries and with serum concentrations of anti-MÃ¼llerian hormone (AMH), an indirect marker for number of healthy follicles and oocytes in ovaries. In the present study, age-matched young adult cattle (12â18 mo old) were subjected to serial ultrasonography to identify animals with a consistently high (â¥25 follicles that were â¥3 mm in diameter) or low (â¤15 follicles) AFC during follicular waves. Differences in serum AMH concentrations, ovary weight, and number of morphologically healthy and atretic follicles and oocytes were determined. The phenotypic classifications of cattle based on AFC during follicular waves or AMH concentrations both predict reliably the relative number of morphologically healthy follicles and oocytes in ovaries of age-matched young adult cattle.
The KISS1 gene encodes the kisspeptin neuropeptide, which activates the KISS1 receptor (KISS1R; G protein-coupled receptor 54; GPR54) and participates in neuroendocrine regulation of GnRH secretion. To study the physiological function(s) and evolutionary conservation of KISS1, we cloned opossum, Xenopus , and zebrafish kiss1 cDNAs. Processing zebrafish, Xenopus , or opossum KISS proteins would liberate a carboxy-terminal amidated peptide with 52, 54, or 53 amino acid residues, respectively. Phylogenetic analysis of all known vertebrate KISS1 peptides showed clear clustering of the sequences according to canonical vertebrate classes. The zebrafish kiss1 gene consists of two exons and one intron. Real-time PCR analysis of two kiss1R cloned from zebrafish brain found expression of kiss1 , kiss1ra , and kiss1rb , with kiss1ra âmore similar to other piscine Kiss1 receptorsâhighly expressed in the gonads and kiss1rb in other nonbrain tissues. In females kiss1 mRNA levels gradually increased during the first few weeks of life to peak in fish with ovaries containing mature oocytes, while in males kiss1 mRNA levels peaked after 6 wk postfertilization when the testes exhibited initial stages of spermatogenesis and decreased after puberty. Zebrafish kiss1ra and kiss1rb were expressed differentially with similar patterns in both genders. These results indicate that the Kiss1/Kiss1r system may participate in puberty initiation in fish as well. Like human KISS1R, Kiss1ra transduces its activity via the PKC pathway, whereas Kiss1rb does so via both PKC and PKA pathways. The human KISS1R was highly activated by both huKISS10amide and zfKISS10amide, whereas both zebrafish Kiss1 receptor types were less sensitive to amidation.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) mediate posttranscriptional gene regulation by binding to the 3â² untranslated region of messenger RNAs to either inhibit or enhance translation. The extent and hormonal regulation of miRNA expression by ovarian granulosa cells and their role in ovulation and luteinization is unknown. In the present study, miRNA array analysis was used to identify 212 mature miRNAs as expressed and 13 as differentially expressed in periovulatory granulosa cells collected before and after an ovulatory dose of hCG. Two miRNAs, Mirn132 and Mirn212 (also known as miR-132 and miR-212), were found to be highly upregulated following LH/hCG induction and were further analyzed. In vivo and in vitro temporal expression analysis by quantitative RT-PCR confirmed that LH/hCG and cAMP, respectively, increased transcription of the precursor transcript as well as the mature miRNAs. Locked nucleic acid oligonucleotides complementary to Mirn132 and Mirn212 were shown to block cAMP-mediated mature miRNA expression and function. Computational analyses indicated that 77 putative mRNA targets of Mirn132 and Mirn212 were expressed in ovarian granulosa cells. Furthermore, upon knockdown of Mirn132 and Mirn212 , a known target of Mirn132 , C-terminal binding protein 1, showed decreased protein levels but no change in mRNA levels. The following studies are the first to describe the extent of miRNA expression within ovarian granulosa cells and the first to demonstrate that LH/hCG regulates the expression of select miRNAs, which affect posttranscriptional gene regulation within these cells.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs that posttranscriptionally regulate gene expression. Hundreds of miRNAs are expressed in mammals; however, their functions are just starting to be uncovered. MicroRNAs are processed from a long hairpin mRNA transcript, down to a â¼23-nucleotide duplex. The enzyme Dicer1 is required for miRNA processing, and mouse knockouts of Dicer1 are embryonic lethal before 7.5 days postcoitus. To examine the function of miRNAs specifically in the germline, we used a mouse model that expresses Cre recombinase from the TNAP locus and a floxed Dicer1 conditional allele. Removal of Dicer1 from germ cells resulted in male infertility. Germ cells were present in adult testes, but few tubules contained elongating spermatids. Germ cells that did differentiate to elongating spermatids exhibited abnormal morphology and motility. Rarely, sperm lacking Dicer1 could fertilize wild-type eggs to generate viable offspring. These results show that Dicer1 and miRNAs are essential for proper differentiation of the male germline.
Vitamin A deficiency in the mouse results in an arrest in the progression of undifferentiated spermatogonia to differentiating spermatogonia. The supplement of retinol to vitamin-A-deficient mice reinitiates spermatogenesis in a synchronous manner throughout the testes. It is unclear whether the effects of retinoids are the result of a direct action on germ cells or are indirectly mediated through Sertoli cells. The expression of Stimulated by retinoic acid gene 8 ( Stra8) , which is required for spermatogenesis, is directly related to the availability of retinoic acid (RA). Analysis of gene expression by microarrays revealed moderate levels of Stra8 transcript in gonocytes and high levels in A and B spermatogonia. Stra8 mRNA levels were greatly reduced or absent in germ cells once they entered meiosis. This study examined the effect of retinoic acid on cultured neonatal testes and isolated gonocytes/spermatogonia in vitro. THY1 + and KIT + germ cells were isolated by magnetic-activated cell sorting from the testes of mice of different ages. Isolated germ cells were cultured and treated with either vehicle (ethanol) or RA without feeder cells. We found that 1) Stra8 is predominantly expressed in premeiotic germ cells, 2) RA stimulates gonocyte DNA replication and differentiation in cultured neonatal testes, 3) in the absence of feeder cells, RA directly induces the transition of undifferentiated spermatogonia to differentiating spermatogonia by stimulating Stra8 and Kit gene expression, 4) RA dramatically stimulates Stra8 expression in undifferentiated spermatogonia but has a lesser impact in differentiating spermatogonia, 5) endogenous Stra8 gene expression is higher in differentiating spermatogonia than in undifferentiated spermatogonia and could mediate the RA effects on spermatogonial maturation, and 6) RA stimulates a group of genes involved in the metabolism, storage, transport, and signaling of retinoids.
Vitamin A is required for male fertility and normal spermatogenesis. Retinoic acid (RA), an active metabolite of vitamin A, is necessary for spermatogonial maturation and proper entry of germ cells into meiotic prophase in the postnatal testes. The expression of Stra8 , which is essential for successful meiosis in both male and female gonads and normal spermatogenesis, is directly related to the availability of RA. This study examined the developmental expression pattern of Stra8 transcript in both male and female gonads, provided specific cellular localization of STRA8 protein in the postnatal and adult testis, and investigated RA actions in adult germ cells in a vitamin A-sufficient condition. The peak of Stra8 mRNA expression coincided with the onset of meiosis in postnatal testes. STRA8 protein was detected in gonocytes as early as 5 days postpartum. The expression of STRA8 protein in the neonatal testes was not uniform among spermatogonia, perhaps heralding the asynchronous beginning of spermatogenesis. In adult testes, the highest level of Stra8 mRNA and protein was found in seminiferous epithelial stages VIâVIII. STRA8 protein was localized to some type A and B spermatogonia, preleptotene spermatocytes, and early leptotene spermatocytes. In the vitamin A-sufficient adult testes, RA but not retinol acetate stimulated Stra8 mRNA expression. STRA8 protein expression in adult spermatogonia was induced by RA stimulation, suggesting its role in spermatogonial differentiation. Retinoic acid also increased the number of preleptotene spermatocytes exhibiting 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine incorporation, indicating a more synchronized premeiotic DNA replication.
Although pluripotent stem cells were recently discovered in postnatal testis, attempts to analyze their developmental potential have led to conflicting claims that spermatogonial stem cells are pluripotent or that they lose spermatogenic potential after conversion into pluripotent stem cells. To examine this issue, we analyzed the developmental fate of a single spermatogonial stem cell that appeared during transfection experiments. After transfection of a neomycin-resistance gene into germline stem cells, we obtained an embryonic stem-like, multipotent germline stem cell line. Southern blot analysis revealed that the germline stem and multipotent germline stem clones have the same transgene integration pattern, demonstrating their identical origin. The two lines, however, have different DNA methylation patterns. The multipotent germline stem cells formed chimeras after blastocyst injection but did not produce sperm after germ cell transplantation, whereas the germline stem cells could produce only spermatozoa and did not differentiate into somatic cells. Interestingly, the germline stem cells expressed several transcription factors ( Pou5f1 , Sox2 , Myc , and Klf4 ) required for reprogramming fibroblasts into a pluripotent state, suggesting that they are potentially pluripotent. Thus, our study provides evidence that a single spermatogonial stem cell can acquire pluripotentiality but that conversion into a pluripotent cell type is accompanied by loss of spermatogenic potential.
Poor maternal nutrition during pregnancy can alter postnatal phenotype and increase susceptibility to adult cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. However, underlying mechanisms are largely unknown. Here, we show that maternal low protein diet (LPD), fed exclusively during mouse preimplantation development, leads to offspring with increased weight from birth, sustained hypertension, and abnormal anxiety-related behavior, especially in females. These adverse outcomes were interrelated with increased perinatal weight being predictive of later adult overweight and hypertension. Embryo transfer experiments revealed that the increase in perinatal weight was induced within blastocysts responding to preimplantation LPD, independent of subsequent maternal environment during later pregnancy. We further identified the embryo-derived visceral yolk sac endoderm (VYSE) as one mediator of this response. VYSE contributes to fetal growth through endocytosis of maternal proteins, mainly via the multiligand megalin (LRP2) receptor and supply of liberated amino acids. Thus, LPD maintained throughout gestation stimulated VYSE nutrient transport capacity and megalin expression in late pregnancy, with enhanced megalin expression evident even when LPD was limited to the preimplantation period. Our results demonstrate that in a nutrient-restricted environment, the preimplantation embryo activates physiological mechanisms of developmental plasticity to stablize conceptus growth and enhance postnatal fitness. However, activation of such responses may also lead to adult excess growth and cardiovascular and behavioral diseases.
Abstract Though gender-based differences in the development of protective or pathological adaptive host responses have been widely noted, it is becoming apparent that sex may also influence the early perception of microbial challenges and the generation of inflammatory immune responses. These differences may be due to the actions of reproductive hormones, and such a hypothesis is supported by the presence of receptors for these hormones in a variety of immune cell types. Androgens such as testosterone have been shown to decrease immune functions, including cytokine production. However, the mechanisms by which testosterone limits such responses remain undefined. In this study, we have investigated the acute effects of testosterone on the level of expression of a key trigger for inflammation and innate immunity, Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), on isolated mouse macrophages. We show that in vitro testosterone treatment of macrophages, generated in the absence of androgen, elicits a modest but significant decrea...
Abstract Oocyte competence is the ability of the oocyte to complete maturation, undergo successful fertilization, and reach the blastocyst stage. Cumulus cells are indispensable for this process. Their removal significantly affects the blastocyst rates. Moreover, the properties and functions of cumulus cells are regulated by the oocyte. They also reflect the oocyte's degree of maturation. Our study was aimed at identifying markers of oocyte competence that are expressed in bovine cumulus cells. In a previous study in our laboratory, the blastocyst yield following FSH or phorbol myristate acetate (PMA) treatment was 45%%. Therefore, we tested four sets of conditions during the first 6 h of in vitro maturation (IVM): FSH (0.1 μg/ml), PMA (0.1 μM), FSH ++ PMA, and negative control. Extracts from each IVM treatment were hybridized against the same negative control on a microarray containing a partial library of differentially expressed transcripts in the cumulus of competent oocytes collected at 6 h after LH ...
The lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) protein family members characteristically are distributed in tissue- and cell type-specific patterns and serve as the terminal enzyme of glycolysis, catalyzing reversible oxidation reduction between pyruvate and lactate. They are present as tetramers, and one family member, LDHC, is abundant in spermatocytes, spermatids, and sperm, but also is found in modest amounts in oocytes. We disrupted the Ldhc gene to determine whether LDHC is required for spermatogenesis, oogenesis, and/or sperm and egg function. The targeted disruption of Ldhc severely impaired fertility in male Ldhc â/â mice but not in female Ldhc â/â mice. Testis and sperm morphology and sperm production appeared to be normal. However, total LDH enzymatic activity was considerably lower in Ldhc â/â sperm than in wild type sperm, indicating that the LDHC homotetramer (LDH-C 4 ) is responsible for most of the LDH activity in sperm. Although initially motile when isolated, there was a more rapid reduction in the level of ATP and in motility in Ldhc â / â sperm than in wild-type sperm. Moreover, Ldhc â/â sperm did not acquire hyperactivated motility, were unable to penetrate the zona pellucida in vitro, and failed to undergo the phosphorylation events characteristic of capacitation. These studies showed that LDHC plays an essential role in maintenance of the processes of glycolysis and ATP production in the flagellum that are required for male fertility and sperm function.
During early pregnancy in ruminants, progesterone (P4) from the corpus luteum and interferon tau (IFNT) from the conceptus act on the endometrium to regulate genes important for uterine receptivity and conceptus growth. The use of the uterine gland knockout (UGKO) ewe has demonstrated the critical role of epithelial secretions in regulation of conceptus survival and growth. A custom ovine cDNA array was used to identify alterations in gene expression of endometria from Day 14 cyclic, pregnant, and UGKO ewes (study 1) and from cyclic ewes treated with P4 or P4 with ZK 136,317 antiprogestin and control proteins or IFNT (study 2). In study 1, expression of 47 genes was more than 2-fold different between Day 14 pregnant and cyclic endometria, whereas 23 genes was different between Day 14 cyclic and UGKO endometria. In study 2, 70 genes were different due to P4 alone, 74 genes were affected by IFNT in a P4-dependent manner, and 180 genes were regulated by IFNT in a P4-independent manner. In each study, an approximately equal number of genes were found to be activated or repressed in each group. Endometrial genes increased by pregnancy and P4 and/or IFNT include B2M, CTSL, CXCL10, G1P3, GRP, IFI27, IFIT1, IFITM3, LGALS15, MX1, POSTN, RSAD2, and STAT5A. Transcripts decreased by pregnancy and P4 and/or IFNT include COL3A1, LUM, PTMA, PUM1, RPL9, SPARC, and VIM. Identification and analysis of these hormonally responsive genes will help define endometrial pathways critical for uterine support of peri-implantation conceptus survival, growth, and implantation. Abstract Microarray analysis identified genes and gene networks involved in novel endometrial pathways regulated by progesterone, IFNT, and pregnancy that are critical for conceptus survival, growth, and implantation.
Spermatogonial stem cells provide the foundation for spermatogenesis in male animals. We recently succeeded in culturing and genetically engineering mouse spermatogonial stem cells, but little is known regarding the culture and growth requirements of spermatogonial stem cells in other animal species. In this study, we report the successful long-term culture of spermatogonial stem cells from hamster testes. Spermatogonial stem cells were purified using an anti-ITGA6 antibody and cultured in the presence of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor. The cells continued to proliferate for at least 1 year. During this period, they were genetically modified using a lentivirus and underwent spermatogenesis after transplantation into the testes of immunodeficient nude mice. However, germ cells generated in the surrogate xenogeneic recipients did not differentiate beyond the spermatid stage, and these round spermatids could not produce offspring through in vitro microinsemination. These results suggest that the germ cells may not have acquired characteristics necessary for fertility in the xenogeneic microenvironment. Nevertheless, the successful establishment of culture conditions conducive for hamster spermatogonial stem cell growth and maintenance indicates that this technique can be extended to other animal species in which current genetic modification techniques are impossible or inefficient.
The mechanisms underlying the initiation of puberty in fish are poorly understood, and whether the Kiss1 receptor (Kiss1r; previously designated G protein-coupled receptor 54; GPR54) and its ligands, kisspeptins, play a significant role, as has been established in mammals, is not yet known. We determined (via real-time PCR) temporal patterns of expression in the brain of kiss1r , gnrh2 , and gnrh3 and a suite of related genes in the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis and analyzed them against the timing of gonadal germ cell development in male and female fathead minnow ( Pimephales promelas ). Full- or partial-length cDNAs for kiss1r (736 bp), gnrh2 (698 bp), and gnrh3 (804 bp) cloned from fathead minnow were found to be expressed only in the brain, testis, and ovary of adult fish. Localization of kiss1r , gnrh2 , and gnrh3 within the brain provided evidence for their physiological roles and a likely hypophysiotropic role for GnRH3 in this species (which, like other cyprinids, does not appear to express gnrh1 ). In both sexes, kiss1r expression in the brain increased at the onset of puberty and reached maximal expression in males when spermatagonia type B appeared in the testis and in females when cortical alveolus-stage oocytes first appeared in the ovary, the timings of which differed for the two sexes. However, kiss1r expression was considerably lower during more advanced stages of spermatogenesis and oogenesis. The expression of kiss1r closely aligned with that of the gnrh genes ( gnrh3 in particular), suggesting the Kiss1r/kisspeptin system in fish has a similar role in puberty to that occurring in mammals, and this hypothesis was supported by the induction of gnrh3 (2.25-fold) and kiss1r (1.5-fold) in early-mid pubertal fish injected with mammalian kisspeptin-10 (2 nmol/g wet weight). An intriguing finding, and contrasting that in mammals, was an elevated expression of esr1 , ar , and cyp19a2 (genes involved in sex steroid signaling) in the brain at the onset of puberty, and in females slightly in advance of the elevation in the expression of kiss1r .
In humans, adverse pregnancy outcomes (low birth weight, prematurity, and intrauterine growth retardation) are associated with exposure to urban air pollution. Experimental data have also shown that such exposure elicits adverse reproductive outcomes. We hypothesized that the effects of urban air pollution on pregnancy outcomes could be related to changes in functional morphology of the placenta. To test this, future dams were exposed during pregestational and gestational periods to filtered or nonfiltered air in exposure chambers. Placentas were collected from near-term pregnancies and prepared for microscopical examination. Fields of view on vertical uniform random tissue slices were analyzed using stereological methods. Volumes of placental compartments were estimated, and the labyrinth was analyzed further in terms of its maternal vascular spaces, fetal capillaries, trophoblast, and exchange surface areas. From these primary data, secondary quantities were derived: vessel calibers (expressed as diameters), trophoblast thickness (arithmetic mean), and total and mass-specific morphometric diffusive conductances for oxygen of the intervascular barrier. Two-way analysis of variance showed that both periods of exposure led to significantly smaller fetal weights. Pregestational exposure to nonfiltered air led to significant increases in fetal capillary surface area and in total and mass-specific conductances. However, the calibers of maternal blood spaces were reduced. Gestational exposure to nonfiltered air was associated with reduced volumes, calibers, and surface areas of maternal blood spaces and with greater fetal capillary surfaces and diffusive conductances. The findings indicate that urban air pollution affects placental functional morphology. Fetal weights are compromised despite attempts to improve diffusive transport across the placenta.
Primordial germ cells (PGCs) are the only cells in developing embryos with the potential to transmit genetic information to the next generation. PGCs therefore have the potential to be of value for gene banking and cryopreservation, particularly via the production of donor gametes with germ-line chimeras. Currently, it is not clear how many PGCs are required for germ-line differentiation and formation of gonadal structures. In the present study, we achieved complete germ-line replacement between two related teleost species, the pearl danio ( Danio albolineatus ) and the zebrafish ( Danio rerio ), with transplantation of a single PGC into each host embryo. We isolated and transplanted a single PGC into each blastula-stage, zebrafish embryo. Development of host germ-line cells was prevented by an antisense dead end morpholino oligonucleotide. In many host embryos, the transplanted donor PGC successfully migrated toward the gonadal anlage without undergoing cell division. At the gonadal anlage, the PGC differentiated to form one normally sized gonad rather than the pair of gonads usually present. Offspring were obtained from natural spawning of these chimeras. Analyses of morphology and DNA showed that the offspring were of donor origin. We extended our study to confirm that transplanted single PGCs of goldfish ( Carassius auratus ) and loach ( Misgurnus anguillicaudatus ) can similarly differentiate into sperm in zebrafish host embryos. Our results show that xenogenesis is realistic and practical across species, genus, and family barriers and can be achieved by the transplantation of a single PGC from a donor species.
We examined the effects of fetal exposure to a wide range of di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) doses on fetal, neonatal, and adult testosterone production. Pregnant rats were administered DEHP from Gestational Day (GD) 14 to the day of parturition (Postnatal Day 0). Exposure to between 234 and 1250 mg/kg/day of DEHP resulted in increases in the absolute volumes of Leydig cells per adult testis. Despite this, adult serum testosterone levels were reduced significantly compared to those of controls at all DEHP doses. Organ cultures of testes from GD20 rats exposed in utero to DEHP showed dose-dependent reductions in basal testosterone production. Surprisingly, however, no significant effect of DEHP was found on hCG-induced testosterone production by GD20 testes, suggesting that the inhibition of basal steroidogenesis resulted from the alteration of molecular events upstream of the steroidogenic enzymes. Reduced fetal and adult testosterone production in response to in utero DEHP exposure appeared to be unrelated to changes in testosterone metabolism. In view of the DEHP-induced reductions in adult testosterone levels, a decrease in the expression of steroidogenesis-related genes was anticipated. Surprisingly, however, significant increases were seen in the expression of Cyp11a1 , Cy17a1 , Star, and Tspo transcripts, suggesting that decreased testosterone production after birth could not be explained by decreases in steroidogenic enzymes as seen at GD20. These changes may reflect an increased number of Leydig cells in adult testes exposed in utero to DEHP rather than increased gene expression in individual Leydig cells, but this remains uncertain. Taken together, these results demonstrate that in utero DEHP exposure exerts both short-term and long-lasting effects on testicular steroidogenesis that might involve distinct molecular targets in fetal and adult Leydig cells.
The aim of the present study was to determine the mechanisms involved in estrogen actions in cultured rat Sertoli cells. RT-PCR detected transcripts for the estrogen receptors ESR1 and ESR2 in cultured immature Sertoli cells and in the testis of 15-, 28-, and 120-day-old rats. The expression of ESR1 and ESR2 was confirmed in Sertoli cells by immunofluorescence and Western blot. Immunohistochemistry with cryosections of testes from immature and adult rats revealed that ESR1 is present in Sertoli, Leydig, and some peritubular myoid cells, and ESR2 is present in multiple cell types, including germ cells. Treatment of Sertoli cells with 17beta-estradiol (E 2 ) induced a translocation of ESR1 and ESR2 to the plasma membrane and a concomitant phosphorylation of MAPK3/1. Both effects reached a maximum after 10 min and were blocked by PP2, an inhibitor of the SRC family of protein tyrosine kinases, and by the antiestrogen ICI 182,780 (ICI). MAPK3/1 phosphorylation was also decreased in the presence of AG 1478, an inhibitor of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) kinase, and in the presence of MAP2K1/2 inhibitor UO126. Treatment with E 2 for 24 h increased the incorporation of [methyl- 3 H]thymidine, which was blocked by ICI. These results indicate that E 2 activates an SRC-mediated translocation of estrogen receptors to the plasma membrane, which results in the activation of EGFR and the mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathway. In addition, activation of ESR1 and/or ESR2 by E 2 is involved in proliferation of immature Sertoli cells. The estrogen actions in Sertoli cells might be a key step mediating cellular events important for spermatogenesis and fertility.