In cattle, elevated concentrations of circulating progesterone (P4) in the immediate postconception period are associated with advanced conceptus development, while low P4 is implicated as a causative factor in low pregnancy rates observed in dairy cows. This study aimed to: 1) describe the transcriptional changes that occur in the bovine endometrium during the estrous cycle, 2) determine how elevated P4 affects these changes, 3) identify if low P4 alters the expression of these genes, and 4) assess the impact that low P4 has on conceptus development. Relatively few differences occurred in endometrial gene expression during the early luteal phase of the estrous cycle (Day 5 vs. 7), but comparison of endometria from more distant stages of the luteal phase (Day 7 vs. 13) revealed large transcriptional changes, which were significantly altered by exogenous supplementation of P4. Induction of low circulating P4 altered the normal temporal changes in gene expression, and these changes were coordinate with a delay in the down-regulation of the PGR from the LE and GE. Altered endometrial gene expression induced by low P4 was associated with a reduced capacity of the uterus to support conceptus development after embryo transfer on Day 7. In conclusion, the present study provides clear evidence that the temporal changes in the transcriptome of the endometrium of cyclic heifers are sensitive to circulating P4 concentrations in the first few days after estrus. Under low P4 conditions, a suboptimal uterine environment with reduced ability to support conceptus elongation is observed.
This study sought to determine the earliest response of the bovine uterine endometrium to the presence of the conceptus at key developmental stages of early pregnancy. There were no detectable differences in gene expression in endometria from pregnant and cyclic heifers on Days 5, 7, and 13 postestrus, but the expression of 764 genes was altered due to the presence of the conceptus at maternal recognition of pregnancy (Day 16). Of these 514 genes, MX2, BST2, RSAD2, ISG15, OAS1, USP18, IFI44, ISG20, SAMD9, EIF4E, and IFIT2 increased to the greatest extent in pregnant endometria (>8-fold log2 fold change increase). The expression of OXTR, Bt.643 (unofficial symbol), and KCNMA1 was reduced the most, but short-term treatment with recombinant ovine interferon tau (IFNT) in vitro or in vivo did not alter their expression. In vivo intrauterine infusion of IFNT induced the expression of EIF4E, IFIT2, IFI44, ISG20, MX2, RSAD2, SAMD9, and USP18. These results revealed for the first time that changes that occur in the endometrial transcriptome are independent of the presence of a conceptus until pregnancy recognition. The differentially expressed genes (including MX2, BST2, RSAD2, ISG15, OAS1, USP18, IFI44, ISG20, SAMD, and EIF4E) are a consequence of IFNT production by the conceptus. The identified genes represent known and novel early markers of conceptus development and/or return to cyclicity and may be useful to identify the earliest stage at which the endometrial response to the conceptus is detectable.
Mobilization of fatty acids from adipose tissue during metabolic stress will increase the amount of free fatty acids in blood and follicular fluid and, thus, may affect oocyte quality. In this in vitro study, the three predominant fatty acids in follicular fluid (saturated palmitic and stearic acid and unsaturated oleic acid) were presented to maturing oocytes to test whether fatty acids can affect lipid storage of the oocyte and developmental competence postfertilization. Palmitic and stearic acid had a dose-dependent inhibitory effect on the amount of fat stored in lipid droplets and a concomitant detrimental effect on oocyte developmental competence. Oleic acid, in contrast, had the opposite effect, causing an increase of lipid storage in lipid droplets and an improvement of oocyte developmental competence. Remarkably, the adverse effects of palmitic and stearic acid could be counteracted by oleic acid. These results suggest that the ratio and amount of saturated and unsaturated fatty acid is relevant for lipid storage in the maturing oocyte and that this relates to the developmental competence of maturing oocytes.
Continual spermatogenesis at a quantitatively normal level is required to sustain male fertility. The foundation of this process relies on maintenance of an undifferentiated spermatogonial population consisting of spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) that self-renew as well as transient amplifying progenitors produced by differentiation. In mammals, type A(single) spermatogonia form the SSC population, but molecular markers distinguishing these from differentiating progenitors are undefined and knowledge of mechanisms regulating their functions is limited. We show that in the mouse male germline the transcriptional repressor ID4 is expressed by a subpopulation of undifferentiated spermatogonia and selectively marks A(single) spermatogonia. In addition, we found that ID4 expression is up-regulated in isolated SSC-enriched fractions by stimulation from GDNF, a key growth factor driving self-renewal. In mice lacking ID4 expression, quantitatively normal spermatogenesis was found to be impaired due to progressive loss of the undifferentiated spermatogonial population during adulthood. Moreover, reduction of ID4 expression by small interfering RNA treatment abolished the ability of wild-type SSCs to expand in vitro during long-term culture without affecting their survival. Collectively, these results indicate that ID4 is a distinguishing marker of SSCs in the mammalian germline and plays an important role in the regulation of self-renewal.
The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency's ToxCast research program uses high throughput screening (HTS) for profiling bioactivity and predicting the toxicity of large numbers of chemicals. ToxCast Phase I tested 309 well-characterized chemicals in more than 500 assays for a wide range of molecular targets and cellular responses. Of the 309 environmental chemicals in Phase I, 256 were linked to high-quality rat multigeneration reproductive toxicity studies in the relational Toxicity Reference Database. Reproductive toxicants were defined here as having achieved a reproductive lowest-observed-adverse-effect level of less than 500 mg kg(-1) day(-1). Eight-six chemicals were identified as reproductive toxicants in the rat, and 68 of those had sufficient in vitro bioactivity to model. Each assay was assessed for univariate association with the identified reproductive toxicants. Significantly associated assays were linked to gene sets and used for the subsequent predictive modeling. Using linear discriminant analysis and fivefold cross-validation, a robust and stable predictive model was produced capable of identifying rodent reproductive toxicants with 77% +/- 2% and 74% +/- 5% (mean +/- SEM) training and test cross-validation balanced accuracies, respectively. With a 21-chemical external validation set, the model was 76% accurate, further indicating the model's potential for prioritizing the many thousands of environmental chemicals with little to no hazard information. The biological features of the model include steroidal and nonsteroidal nuclear receptors, cytochrome P450 enzyme inhibition, G protein-coupled receptors, and cell signaling pathway readouts-mechanistic information suggesting additional targeted, integrated testing strategies and potential applications of in vitro HTS to risk assessment.
In ruminants, both the endometrium and the conceptus (embryo and associated extraembryonic membranes) trophectoderm synthesizes and secretes prostaglandins (PG) during early pregnancy. In mice and humans, PGs regulate endometrial function and conceptus implantation. In Study One, bred ewes received intrauterine infusions of vehicle as a control (CX) or meloxicam (MEL), a PG synthase (PTGS) inhibitor from Days 814 postmating, and the uterine lumen was flushed on Day 14 to recover conceptuses and assess their morphology. Elongating and filamentous conceptuses (12 cm to >14 cm in length) were recovered from all CX-treated ewes. In contrast, MEL-treated ewes contained mostly ovoid or tubular conceptuses. PTGS activity in the uterine endometrium and amounts of PGs were substantially lower in uterine flushings from MEL-treated ewes. Receptors for PGE2 and PGF2 alpha were present in both the conceptus and the endometrium, particularly the epithelia. In Study Two, cyclic ewes received intrauterine infusions of CX, MEL, recombinant ovine interferon tau (IFNT), or IFNT and MEL from Days 10-14 postestrus. Infusion of MEL decreased PGs in the uterine lumen and expression of a number of progesterone-induced endometrial genes, particularly IGFBP1 and HSD11B1. IFNT increased endometrial PTGS activity and the amount of PGs in the uterine lumen. Interestingly, IFNT stimulation of many genes (FGF2, ISG15, RSAD2, CST3, CTSL, GRP, LGALS15, IGFBP1, SLC2A1, SLC5A1, SLC7A2) was reduced by co-infusion with MEL. Thus, PGs are important regulators of conceptus elongation and mediators of endometrial responses to progesterone and IFNT in the ovine uterus.
Regulatory T (Treg) cells facilitate maternal immune tolerance of the semiallogeneic conceptus in early pregnancy, but the origin and regulation of these cells at embryo implantation is unclear. During the preimplantation period, factors in the seminal fluid delivered at coitus cause expansion of a CD4(+)CD25(+) putative Treg cell population in the para-aortic lymph nodes draining the uterus. Using flow cytometry, immunohistochemistry, and real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) for the signature Treg cell transcription factor FOXP3, we confirmed the identity of the expanded lymph node population as FOXP3(+) Treg cells and showed that this is accompanied by a comparable increase in the uterus of FOXP3(+) Treg cells and expression of Foxp3 mRNA by Day 3.5 postcoitum. Seminal plasma was necessary for uterine Treg cell accumulation, as mating with seminal vesicle-deficient males failed to elicit an increase in uterine Treg cells. Furthermore seminal fluid induced expression of mRNA encoding the Treg chemokine CCL19 (MIP3beta), which acts through the CCR7 receptor to regulate Treg cell recruitment and retention in peripheral tissues. Glandular and luminal epithelial cells were identified as the major cellular origins of uterine CCL19, and exposure to both seminal plasma and sperm was required for maximum expression. Together, these results indicate that Treg cells accumulate in the uterus prior to embryo implantation and that seminal fluid is a key regulator of the uterine Treg cell population, operating by both increasing the pool of available Treg cells and promoting their CCL19-mediated recruitment from the circulation into the implantation site.
Oxidative stress has been implicated in various aspects of aging, but the role of oxidative stress in ovarian aging remains unclear. Our previous studies have shown that the initiation of apoptotic cell death in ovarian follicles and granulosa cells by various stimuli is initiated by increased reactive oxygen species. Herein, we tested the hypothesis that ovarian antioxidant defenses decrease and oxidative damage increases with age in mice. Healthy, wild-type C57BL/6 female mice aged 2, 6, 9, or 12 mo from the National Institute on Aging Aged Rodent Colony were killed on the morning of metestrus. Quantitative real-time RT-PCR was used to measure ovarian mRNA levels of antioxidant genes. Immunostaining using antibodies directed against 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE), nitrotyrosine (NTY), and 8-hydroxy-20-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) was used to localize oxidative lipid, protein, and DNA damage, respectively, within the ovaries. TUNEL was used to localize apoptosis. Ovarian expression of glutathione peroxidase 1 (Gpx1) increased and expression of glutaredoxin 1 (Glrx1), glutathione S-transferase mu 2 (Gstm2), peroxiredoxin 3 (Prdx3), and thioredoxin 2 (Txn2) decreased in a statistically significant manner with age. Statistically significant increases in 4-HNE, NTY, and 8-OHdG immunostaining in ovarian interstitial cells and follicles were observed with increasing age. Our data suggest that the decrease in mRNA expression of mitochondrial antioxidants Prdx3 and Txn2 as well as cytosolic antioxidants Glrx1 and Gstm2 may be involved in age-related ovarian oxidative damage to lipid, protein, DNA, and other cellular components vital for maintaining ovarian function and fertility.
The success of postnatal uterine morphogenesis dictates, in part, the embryotrophic potential and functional capacity of the adult uterus. The definitive role of Wnt7a in postnatal uterine development and adult function requires a conditional knockout, because global deletion disrupts mullerian duct patterning, specification, and cell fate in the fetus. The Wnt7a-null uterus appears to be posteriorized because of developmental defects in the embryo, as evidenced by the stratified luminal epithelium that is normally found in the vagina and the presence of short and uncoiled oviducts. To understand the biological role of WNT7A after birth and allow tissue-selective deletion of Wnt7a, we generated loxP-flanked exon 2 mice and conditionally deleted Wnt7a after birth in the uterus by crossing them with Pgr(Cre) mice. Morphological examination revealed no obvious differences in the vagina, cervix, oviduct, or ovary. The uteri of Wnt7a mutant mice contained no endometrial glands, whereas all other uterine cell types appeared to be normal. Postnatal differentiation of endometrial glands was observed in control mice, but not in mutant mice, between Postnatal Days 3 and 12. Expression of morphoregulatory genes, particularly Foxa2, Hoxa10, Hoxa11, Msx1, and Wnt16, was disrupted in the Wnt7a mutant uteri. Conditional Wnt7a mutant mice were not fertile. Although embryos were present in uteri of mutant mice on Day 3.5 of pregnancy, blastocyst implantation was not observed on Day 5.5. Furthermore, expression of several genes (Foxa2, Lif, Msx1, and Wnt16) was reduced or absent in adult Wnt7a-deleted uteri on Day 3.5 postmating. These results indicate that WNT7A plays a critical role in postnatal uterine gland morphogenesis and function, which are important for blastocyst implantation and fertility in the adult uterus.
Oocyte development is characterized by impressive changes in chromatin structure and function in the germinal vesicle (GV) that are crucial in conferring to the oocyte meiotic and developmental competence. During oogenesis, oocyte and follicular cells communicate by paracrine and junctional mechanisms. In cow, cumulus-enclosed oocytes (CEOs) isolated from early antral follicles have uncondensed chromatin (GV0), functionally open gap junction (GJ)-mediated communications, and limited meiotic competence. The aim of the present study was to analyze the role of GJ communications on the chromatin remodeling process during the specific phase of folliculogenesis that coincides with the transcriptional silencing and the sequential acquisition of meiotic and developmental capability. CEOs were cultured in a follicle-stimulating hormone-based culture system that sustained GJ coupling and promoted oocyte growth and transition from GV0 to higher stages of condensation. When GJ functionality was experimentally interrupted, chromatin rapidly condensed, and RNA synthesis suddenly ceased. These effects were prevented by the addition of cilostamide, a phosphodiesterase 3 inhibitor, indicating that the action of GJ-mediated communication on chromatin structure and function is mediated by cAMP. Prolonging GJ coupling during oocyte culture before in vitro maturation enhanced the ability of early antral oocytes to undergo meiosis and early embryonic development. Altogether, the evidence suggests that GJ-mediated communication between germinal and somatic compartments plays a fundamental role in the regulation of chromatin remodeling and transcription, which in turn are related to competence acquisition.
Sperm cryopreservation is useful for the effective storage of genomic resources derived from genetically engineered mice. However, freezing the sperm of C57BL/6 mice, the most commonly used genetic background for genetically engineered mice, considerably reduces its fertility. We previously reported that methyl-beta-cyclodextrin dramatically improved the fertility of frozen/thawed C57BL/6 mouse sperm. Recently, it was reported that exposing sperm to reduced glutathione may alleviate oxidative stress in frozen/thawed mouse sperm, thereby enhancing in vitro fertilization (IVF); however, the mechanism underlying this effect is poorly understood. In the present study, we examined the combined effects of methyl-beta-cyclodextrin and reduced glutathione on the fertilization rate of IVF with frozen/thawed C57BL/6 mouse sperm and the characteristic changes in the zona pellucida induced by reduced glutathione. Adding reduced glutathione to the fertilization medium increased the fertilization rate. Methyl-beta-cyclodextrin and reduced glutathione independently increased fertilization rates, and their combination produced the strongest effect. We found that reduced glutathione increased the amount of free thiols in the zona pellucida and promoted zona pellucida enlargement. Finally, 2-cell embryos produced by IVF with the addition of reduced glutathione developed normally and produced live offspring. In summary, we have established a novel IVF method using methyl-beta-cyclodextrin during sperm preincubation and reduced glutathione during the IVF procedure to enhance fertility of frozen/thawed C57BL/6 mouse sperm.
The mucosal epithelium is a major portal for microbial invasion. Mucosal barrier integrity is maintained by the physical interactions of intercellular junctional molecules on opposing epithelial cells. The epithelial mucosa in the female reproductive tract provides the first line of defense against sexually transmitted pathogenic bacteria and viruses, but little is known concerning the structure and molecular composition of epithelial junctions at this site. In the present study, the distribution of tight, adherens, and desmosomal junctions were imaged in the human endocervix (columnar epithelium) and ectocervix (stratified squamous epithelium) by electron microscopy, and permeability was assessed by tracking the penetration of fluorescent immunoglobulin G (IgG). To further define the molecular structure of the intercellular junctions, select junctional molecules were localized in the endocervical, ectocervical, and vaginal epithelium by fluorescent immunohistology. The columnar epithelial cells of the endocervix were joined by tight junctions that excluded apically applied fluorescent IgG. In contrast, the most apical layers of the ectocervical stratified squamous epithelium did not contain classical cell-cell adhesions and were permeable to IgG. The suprabasal and basal epithelial layers in ectocervical and vaginal tissue contained the most robust adhesions; molecules characteristic of exclusionary junctions were detected three to four cellular layers below the luminal surface and extended to the basement membrane. These data indicate that the uppermost epithelial layers of the ectocervix and vagina constitute a unique microenvironment; their lack of tight junctions and permeability to large-molecular-weight immunological mediators suggest that this region is an important battlefront in host defense against microbial pathogens.
Anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) is an endocrine marker that can help predict superovulatory responses to treatments administered to cows for embryo production. However, the optimal time of the estrous cycle at which a blood test should be performed for a highly reliable prognosis has not yet been established. Moreover, little is known about the regulation of AMH production. To answer these questions, a study was designed to investigate the regulation of AMH production in cows selected for their high or low ovulatory responses to superovulation. At the granulosa cell level, AMH production was inhibited by follicle-stimulating hormone but enhanced by bone morphogenetic proteins. At the follicular level, the expression of AMH within the follicle was dependent on the stage of follicular development. At the ovarian level, the size of the pool of small antral growing follicles determined ovarian AMH production. At the endocrine level, AMH followed a specific dynamic profile during the estrous cycle, which occurred independently of the follicular waves of terminal follicular development. Cows selected for their high or low responses to superovulation did not differ in the regulation of AMH production, but cows with higher responses had higher plasma AMH concentrations throughout the cycle. The optimal period of the estrous cycle at which to measure AMH concentrations with the aim of selecting the best cows for embryo production was found to be at estrus and after Day 12 of the cycle. Based on this multiscale study, we propose a model that integrates the different regulatory levels of AMH production.
Sustained spermatogenesis in adult males relies on the activity of spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs). In general, tissue-specific stem cell populations such as SSCs are influenced by contributions of support cells that form niche microenvironments. Previous studies have provided indirect evidence that several somatic cell populations and the interstitial vasculature influence SSC functions, but an individual orchestrator of niches has not been described. In this study, functional transplantation of SSCs, in combination with experimental alteration of Sertoli cell content by polythiouracil (PTU)-induced transient hypothyroidism, was used to explore the relationship of Sertoli cells with SSCs in testes of adult mice. Transplantation of SSCs from PTU-treated donor mice into seminiferous tubules of normal recipient mice revealed a greater than 3-fold increase in SSCs compared to those from testes of non-PTU-treated donors. In addition, use of PTU-treated mice as recipients for transplantation of SSCs from normal donors revealed a greater than 3-fold increase of accessible niches compared to those of testes of non-PTU treated recipient mice with normal numbers of Sertoli cells. Importantly, the area of seminiferous tubules bordered by interstitial tissue and percentage of seminiferous tubules associated with blood vessels was found to be no different in testes of PTU-treated mice compared to controls, indicating that neither the vasculature nor interstitial support cell populations influenced the alteration of niche number. Collectively, these results provide direct evidence that Sertoli cells are the key somatic cell population dictating the number of SSCs and niches in mammalian testes.
Human swim (SIRT) 1 and SIRT2, which possess nicotin amide adenosine dinucleotide (NAD(+))-dependent deacetylase activity, exhibit anti-inflammatory actions However, there are no data available on SIRT1 and SIRT2 expression and regulation in human intrauterine tissues Thus, the aim of this study was to characterize the localization and expression of SIRT1 and SIRT2 in 1) placenta and fetal membranes before and after term spontaneous labor onset, 2) prelabor fetal membranes from the supracervical site (SCS) and a distal site (DS), and 3) in response to proinflammatory stimuli Further, the effect of SIRT activation using resveratrol and SRT1720 on prolabor mediators was also assessed SIRT1 and SIRT2 were localized in the syncytiotro phoblast layer and the cytotrophoblasts of the placenta, amnion epithelium, trophoblast layer of the chorion, and decidual cells Additionally, SIRT2 was found within the endothelial walls of placental vessels SIRT2, but not SIRT1, staining was significantly lower in amnion and chorion obtained from the SCS compared to a DS On the other hand, SIRT1, but not SIRT2, gene and/or protein expression was significantly lower in placenta, amnion, and chorion obtained after labor compared to prelabor SIRT1 expression, but not SIRT2, was down regulated by lipopolysac charide (LPS) and proinflammatory cytokines TNF and IL1B The SIRT1 activators resveratrol and SRT1720 significantly de creased LPS induced TNF, IL6, and IL8 gale expression and release and PTGS2 mRNA expression and resultant prostaglan din (PG) E-2 and PGF(2 alpha), release from human gestational tissues In conclusion, SIRT1 possesses anti-inflammatory actions and thus may play a role in regulating pregnancy and parturition
Vigorous sperm motility, including the transition from progressive to hyperactivated motility that occurs in the female reproductive tract, is required for normal fertilization in mammals. We developed an automated, quantitative method that objectively classifies five distinct motility patterns of mouse sperm using Support Vector Machines (SVM), a common method in supervised machine learning. This multiclass SVM model is based on more than 2000 sperm tracks that were captured by computer-assisted sperm analysis (CASA) during in vitro capacitation and visually classified as progressive, intermediate, hyperactivated, slow, or weakly motile. Parameters associated with the classified tracks were incorporated into established SVM algorithms to generate a series of equations. These equations were integrated into a binary decision tree that sequentially sorts uncharacterized tracks into distinct categories. The first equation sorts CASA tracks into vigorous and nonvigorous categories. Additional equations classify vigorous tracks as progressive, intermediate, or hyperactivated and nonvigorous tracks as slow or weakly motile. Our CASAnova software uses these SVM equations to classify individual sperm motility patterns automatically. Comparisons of motility profiles from sperm incubated with and without bicarbonate confirmed the ability of the model to distinguish hyperactivated patterns of motility that develop during in vitro capacitation. The model accurately classifies motility profiles of sperm from a mutant mouse model with severe motility defects. Application of the model to sperm from multiple inbred strains reveals strain-dependent differences in sperm motility profiles. CASAnova provides a rapid and reproducible platform for quantitative comparisons of motility in large, heterogeneous populations of mouse sperm.
A greater understanding of the parturition process is essential in the prevention of preterm birth, which occurs in 12.7% of infants born in the United States annually. Cervical remodeling is a critical component of this process. Beginning early in pregnancy, remodeling requires cumulative, progressive changes in the cervical extracellular matrix (ECM) that result in reorganization of collagen fibril structure with a gradual loss of tensile strength. In the current study, we undertook a detailed biochemical analysis of factors in the cervix that modulate collagen structure during early mouse pregnancy, including expression of proteins involved in processing of procollagen, assembly of collagen fibrils, cross-link formation, and deposition of collagen in the ECM. Changes in these factors correlated with changes in the types of collagen cross-links formed and packing of collagen fibrils as measured by electron microscopy. Early in pregnancy there is a decline in expression of two matricellular proteins, thrombospondin 2 and tenascin C, as well as a decline in expression of lysyl hydroxylase, which is involved in cross-link formation. These changes are accompanied by a decline in both HP and LP cross-links by gestation Days 12 and 14, respectively, as well as a progressive increase in collagen fibril diameter. In contrast, collagen abundance remains constant over the course of pregnancy. We conclude that early changes in tensile strength during cervical softening result in part from changes in the number and type of collagen cross-links and are associated with a decline in expression of two matricellular proteins thrombospondin 2 and tenascin C.
Activin affects many aspects of cellular development, including those essential for reproductive fitness. This study examined the contribution of activin A to murine fetal testicular development, revealing contrasting outcomes of activin actions on Sertoli cells and gonocytes. Shortly after sex determination, from Embryonic Day 12.5 (E12.5) through to birth (0 dpp), the activin A subunit transcript (Inhba) level rises in testis but not ovary, followed closely by the Inha transcript (encoding the inhibitory inhibin alpha subunit). Activin receptor transcript levels also change, with Acvr1 (encoding ALK2) and Acvr2b (ActRIIB) significantly higher and lower, respectively, at 0 dpp compared with E13.5 and E15.5. Transcripts encoding the signaling mediators Smad1, Smad3, and Smad4 were higher at 0 dpp compared with E13.5 and E15.5, whereas Smad2, Smad5, and Smad7 were lower. Detection of phosphorylated (P-) SMAD2/3 in nearly all testis cell nuclei indicated widespread transforming growth factor beta (TGFB) and/or activin ligand signaling activity. In contrast to wild-type littermates, activin betaA subunit knockout (Inhba(-/-)) mice have significantly smaller testes at birth, attributable to a 50% lower Sertoli cell number and decreased Sertoli cell proliferation from E13.5. Inhba(-/-) testes contained twice the normal gonocyte number at birth, with some appearing to bypass quiescence. Persistence of widespread P-SMAD2/3 in Inhba(-/-) cells indicates other TGFB superfamily ligands are active in fetal testes. Significant differences in Smad and cell cycle regulator transcript levels correlating to Inhba gene dosage correspond to differences in Sertoli and germ cell numbers. In Inhba(-/-) testes, Cdkn1a (encoding p21(cip1)), identified previously in fetal gonocytes, was lower at E13.5, whereas Cdkn1b (encoding p(27kip1) in somatic cells) was lower at birth, and cyclin D2 mRNA and protein were lower at E15.5 and 0 dpp. Thus, activin A dosage contributes to establishing the balance between Sertoli and germ cell number that is ultimately required for adult male fertility.
Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) undergo self-renewal divisions to support spermatogenesis Although several in vitro SSC culture systems have been developed, these systems include serum or fibroblast feeders, which complicate SSC self renewal analyses Here, we developed a serum- and feeder-free culture system for long-term propagation of SSCs In addition to the SSC self-renewal factors, including glial cell line derived neurotrophic factor, supplementation with fetuin and lipid-associated molecules was required to drive SSC proliferation in vitro Cultured cells proliferated for at least 6 mo at a rate comparable to that of serum supplemented cultured cells However, germline potential was reduced under serum- and feeder-free conditions, as indicated by a lower SSC frequency after germ cell transplantation Nevertheless, the cultured cells completed spermatogenesis and produced offspring following spermatogo mal transplantation into seminiferous tubules of infertile mice This culture system provides a basic platform for understanding the regulation of SSC fate commitment in vitro and for improving SSC culture medium
Identification of genes involved in trophoblast differentiation is of great interest in understanding cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in placental development and is relevant clinically to fetal development, fertility, and maternal health. Herein, we investigated differentiation of human embryonic stemcells (hESCs) down the trophoblast lineage by culture with bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4) over a 10-day period. Within 2 days, the stemness markers POU5F1 and NANOG were markedly down-regulated, followed temporally by up-regulation of the CDX2, KRT7, HLA-G, ID2, CGA, and CGB trophoblast markers. To understand, on a global scale, changes in the transcriptome during the differentiation of hESCs down the trophoblast lineage, a large-scale microarray analysis was performed. Through whole-genome analysis, more than 3800 genes displayed statistically significant and 2-fold or greater changes in expression during the time course. Of those genes that showed the largest increases, many were involved in processes associated with trophoblast biology; however, novel genes were also identified. Some of them are hypothesized to be associated mainly with extracellular matrix remodeling (e. g., NID2) and cell migration and invasion (e. g., RAB25). Using Ingenuity pathways analysis software to identify signaling pathways involved in trophoblast differentiation or function, we discovered that many genes are involved in WNT/beta-catenin, ERK/MAPK, NFKB, and calcium signaling pathways, suggesting potential roles for these families in trophoblast development. This work provides an in vitro functional genomic model with which to identify genes involved in trophoblast development.