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1.  Nondividing, Postpubertal Rat Sertoli Cells Resumed Proliferation after Transplantation1 
Biology of Reproduction  2013;90(1):13.
Conventionally, it was believed that Sertoli cells (SC) stopped proliferating at puberty and became terminally differentiated quiescent cells. However, recent studies have challenged that dogma. In this study, we transplanted nondividing SC isolated from 23- to 27-day-old postpubertal rats transduced with a recombinant adenoviral vector (containing furin-modified human proinsulin cDNA) into diabetic severe combined immunodeficiency mice. Immunostaining the grafts for cell proliferation markers, proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) and MKI67, revealed that transplanted SC within the grafts were proliferating. Possible causes for resumption of proliferation of SC could be viral transduction, cell isolation and culture, higher abdominal temperature at the transplant site, and/or transplantation. To test for these possible causes, double- immunofluorescence staining was performed for GATA4 (SC marker) and MKI67. None of the SC were positive for MKI67 in tissue collected during SC isolation and culture or at higher temperature. However, nontransduced SC stained positive for MKI67 after transplantation into rats, suggesting viral transduction was not a key factor for induction of SC proliferation. Interestingly, resumption in proliferative ability of nondividing SC was temporary, as SC stopped proliferating within 14 days of transplantation and did not proliferate thereafter. Quantification of 5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine-labeled SC demonstrated that 7%–9% of the total transplanted SC were proliferating in the grafts. These data indicate for the first time that nondividing SC resumed proliferation after transplantation and further validate previous findings that SC are not terminally differentiated. Hence, transplantation of SC could provide a useful model with which to study the regulation of SC proliferation in vivo.
After transplantation into rodents, postpubertal nondividing rat Sertoli cells reinitiate their proliferation; thus, transplantation can be used as a model to study Sertoli cell proliferation in vivo.
PMCID: PMC4076399  PMID: 24285718
proliferation; Sertoli cells; terminally differentiated; transplantation
2.  SPACA7 Is a Novel Male Germ Cell-Specific Protein Localized to the Sperm Acrosome That Is Involved in Fertilization in Mice1 
Biology of Reproduction  2013;90(1):16.
Sperm acrosome associated 7 (SPACA7) is a novel protein of unknown function with no homology to any known protein. Spaca7 transcripts are detected only in testis and predict a 158-residue mature polypeptide with one potential N-glycosylation site and no cysteines. Orthologs are present in various species, including mice and humans. We developed a polyclonal antibody to mouse SPACA7 to study its expression and function. Western blotting and immunofluorescence microscopy detected SPACA7 only in testis, and it was detected in testis starting at Postnatal Day 21 and into adulthood. Immunofluorescence staining of testicular germ cells detected weak SPACA7 expression as early as zygotene spermatocytes. Higher expression was observed in round spermatids, where SPACA7 was localized to a perinuclear spot adjacent to the Golgi and to the acrosome of elongating spermatids and spermatozoa. Immunogold electron microscopy demonstrated that SPACA7 is localized within the proacrosomal granule of round spermatids and the acrosome of spermatozoa. Finally, we showed that SPACA7 was retained within the acrosome of epididymal sperm and was released upon the acrosome reaction. To assess if SPACA7 was involved in fertilization, in vitro fertilization assays in the presence of anti-SPACA7 IgG were performed. Anti-SPACA7 inhibited fertilization of cumulus-intact eggs and prominently delayed cumulus dispersal. However, anti-SPACA7 did not inhibit fertilization of cumulus-free eggs. Our findings indicate that release of SPACA7 from the acrosome accelerates cumulus dispersal and facilitates fertilization via unknown mechanisms. This study is the first to document the expression of endogenous SPACA7 and a function for this novel acrosomal protein.
SPACA7, a novel male germ cell-specific acrosomal protein, is released upon the acrosome reaction and facilitates cumulus dispersal and fertilization.
PMCID: PMC4076400  PMID: 24307706
acrosome; cumulus cells; fertilization; sperm; testis
3.  Inhibitory Effect of Progesterone on Cervical Tissue Formation in a Three-Dimensional Culture System with Human Cervical Fibroblasts1 
Biology of Reproduction  2013;90(1):18.
Progesterone supplementation is recommended to prevent preterm birth in women with a short cervix, but the mechanism is unclear. We hypothesize that progesterone acts by altering the composition of the cervical extracellular matrix (ECM). We tested this hypothesis using human cervical fibroblasts in both two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) cultures. For 2D culture, cells were seeded in 6-well plates and cultured with media supplemented with estradiol (10−8 M), progesterone (10−7 or 10−6 M), and vehicle. For 3D culture, the cells were cultured on a porous silk protein scaffold system. Progesterone and estrogen receptors were documented by immunohistochemistry and Western blot analysis. In both 2D and 3D cultures, decreased collagen synthesis was seen with increased progesterone concentration. Three-dimensional cultures could be maintained significantly longer than 2D cultures, and the morphology of 3D cultures appeared similar to native cervical tissue. Thus, further studies were performed in 3D culture. To determine the effect of progesterone concentration, the 3D scaffolds were cultured with estradiol (10−8 M) and five conditions: vehicle; 10−9, 10−8, or 10−7 M progesterone; or 10−7 M progesterone plus 10−6 M mifepristone. The highest progesterone concentration correlated with the least amount of collagen synthesis. Collagen synthesis progressively increased as progesterone concentration decreased. This effect was partially antagonized by mifepristone, suggesting the mechanism is mediated by the progesterone receptor. This hormonally responsive 3D culture system supports the hypothesis that progesterone has a direct effect on remodeling cervical ECM during pregnancy. The 3D culture system could be useful for studying the mechanism of progesterone effects on the cervix.
Using a hormonally responsive, three-dimensional culture system and human cervical fibroblasts, estradiol increased formation of cervical-like tissue; this effect was opposed by progesterone.
PMCID: PMC4076401  PMID: 24285720
cervix; human; pregnancy; preterm birth; progesterone
4.  The Forkhead Transcription Factor, FOXP3: A Critical Role in Male Fertility in Mice1 
Biology of Reproduction  2013;90(1):4.
Fertility is dependent on the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. Each component of this axis is essential for normal reproductive function. Mice with a mutation in the forkhead transcription factor gene, Foxp3, exhibit autoimmunity and infertility. We have previously shown that Foxp3 mutant mice have significantly reduced expression of pituitary gonadotropins. To address the role of Foxp3 in gonadal function, we examined the gonadal phenotype of these mice. Foxp3 mutant mice have significantly reduced seminal vesicle and testis weights compared with Foxp3+/Y littermates. Spermatogenesis in Foxp3 mutant males is arrested prior to spermatid elongation. Activation of luteinizing hormone signaling in Foxp3 mutant mice by treatment with human chorionic gonadotropin significantly increases seminal vesicle and testis weights as well as testicular testosterone content and seminiferous tubule diameter. Interestingly, human chorionic gonadotropin treatments rescue spermatogenesis in Foxp3 mutant males, suggesting that their gonadal phenotype is due primarily to a loss of pituitary gonadotropin stimulation rather than an intrinsic gonadal defect.
The forkhead transcription factor FOXP3 is essential for normal pituitary gonadotropin expression and, consequently, spermatogenesis in male mice.
PMCID: PMC4076402  PMID: 24258212
fertility; forkhead; FOXP3; gonadotropin; pituitary; spermatogenesis; transcription factor
5.  Regulation of Baboon Fetal Ovarian Development by Placental Estrogen: Onset of Puberty Is Delayed in Offspring Deprived of Estrogen In Utero1 
Biology of Reproduction  2013;89(6):132.
Using the baboon as a model for studies of human reproductive biology, we previously showed that placental estrogen regulates fetal ovarian follicle development. In this study, offspring of baboons untreated or treated in utero with the aromatase inhibitor letrozole (estradiol reduced >95%) or letrozole and estradiol were reared to adulthood to determine whether estrogen programming of the fetal ovary impacted puberty and reproduction in adulthood. All offspring exhibited normal growth and blood pressure/chemistries. Puberty onset in untreated baboons (43.2 ± 1.4 mo) was delayed (P < 0.01) in animals of letrozole-treated mothers (49.0 ± 1.2 mo) and normal in offspring of mothers treated with letrozole and estradiol (42.7 ± 0.8 mo). During the first 2 yr postmenarche, menstrual cycles in estrogen-suppressed animals (43.2 ± 1.3 days) were longer (P < 0.05) than in untreated baboons (38.3 ± 0.5 days) or those treated with letrozole and estrogen (39.6 ± 0.8 days). Moreover, in estrogen-suppressed offspring, serum levels of estradiol were lower and follicle-stimulating hormone greater (P < 0.05) in the follicular and luteal phases, and the elevation in luteal-phase progesterone extended (P < 0.02). Thus, puberty onset was delayed and menstrual cycles prolonged and associated with altered serum hormone levels in baboon offspring that developed in an intrauterine environment in which estradiol levels were suppressed. Because puberty and follicle development, as shown previously, were normal in baboons treated in utero with letrozole and estradiol, we propose that fetal ovarian development and timely onset of puberty in the primate is programmed by fetal exposure to placental estrogen.
Fetal ovarian development and timely onset of puberty in the primate is programmed by fetal exposure to estrogen.
PMCID: PMC4076353  PMID: 24132960
estradiol; ovary; pregnancy; primate; puberty
6.  Enhanced Cellular Responses and Distinct Gene Profiles in Human Fetoplacental Artery Endothelial Cells under Chronic Low Oxygen1  
Biology of Reproduction  2013;89(6):133.
Fetoplacental endothelial cells are exposed to oxygen levels ranging from 2% to 8% in vivo. However, little is known regarding endothelial function within this range of oxygen because most laboratories use ambient air (21% O2) as a standard culture condition (SCN). We asked whether human umbilical artery endothelial cells (HUAECs) that were steadily exposed to the physiological chronic normoxia (PCN, 3% O2) for ∼20–25 days differed in their proliferative and migratory responses to FGF2 and VEGFA as well as in their global gene expression compared with those in the SCN. We observed that PCN enhanced FGF2- and VEGFA-stimulated cell proliferation and migration. In oxygen reversal experiments (i.e., when PCN cells were exposed to SCN for 24 h and vice versa), we found that preexposure to 21% O2 decreased the migratory ability, but not the proliferative ability, of the PCN-HUAECs in response to FGF2 and VEGFA. These PCN-enhanced cellular responses were associated with increased protein levels of HIF1A and NOS3, but not FGFR1, VEGFR1, and VEGFR2. Microarray analysis demonstrated that PCN up-regulated 74 genes and down-regulated 86, 14 of which were directly regulated by hypoxia-inducible factors as evaluated using in silico analysis. Gene function analysis further indicated that the PCN-regulated genes were highly related to cell proliferation and migration, consistent with the results from our functional assays. Given that PCN significantly alters cellular responses to FGF2 and VEGFA as well as transcription in HUAECs, it is likely that we may need to reexamine the current cellular and molecular mechanisms controlling fetoplacental endothelial functions, which were largely derived from endothelial models established under ambient O2.
Chronic low oxygen enhances human endothelial cell proliferation and migration and alters gene expression.
PMCID: PMC4076354  PMID: 24152727
angiogenesis; artery endothelial cells; growth factors; physiological chronic low oxygen; transcriptome
7.  Estrogen Alters Remodeling of the Vaginal Wall after Surgical Injury in Guinea Pigs1 
Biology of Reproduction  2013;89(6):138.
Loss of pelvic organ support (i.e., pelvic organ prolapse) is common in menopausal women. Surgical reconstruction of pelvic organ prolapse is plagued with high failure rates. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of estrogen on biomechanical properties, lysyl oxidase (LOX), collagen content, and histomorphology of the vagina with or without surgical injury. Nulliparous ovariectomized guinea pigs were treated systemically with either 50 μg/kg/day estradiol (E2,) or vehicle. After 2 wk, vaginal surgery was performed, and animals were treated with either beta-aminopropionitrile (BAPN, an irreversible LOX inhibitor), or vehicle to determine the role of LOX in recovery of the vaginal wall from injury with or without E2. Estradiol resulted in (i) significant growth, increased smooth muscle, and increased thickness of the vagina, (ii) increased distensibility without compromise of maximal force at failure, and (iii) increased total and cross-linked collagen. In the absence of E2, BAPN resulted in decreased collagen and vaginal wall strength in the area of the injury. In contrast, in E2-treated animals, increased distensibility, maximal forces, and total collagen were maintained despite BAPN. Interestingly, LOX mRNA was induced dramatically (9.5-fold) in the injured vagina with or without E2 at 4 days. By 21 days, however, LOX levels declined to near baseline in E2-deprived animals. LOX mRNA levels remained strikingly elevated (12-fold) at 21 days in the estrogenized vagina. The results suggest that prolonged E2 induced increases in LOX, and collagen cross-links may act to sustain a matrix environment that optimizes long-term surgical wound healing in the vagina.
Estradiol not only increases baseline vaginal distensibility, vaginal epithelium and muscularis growth, and collagen content, but also prolonged increases in lysyl oxidase and collagen cross-links in the vaginal muscularis after injury.
PMCID: PMC4076355  PMID: 24174572
collagen; estradiol/estradiol receptor; lysyl oxidase; matrix remodeling; menopause; pelvic organ prolapse; vagina
8.  Transcriptome Analysis of the Dihydrotestosterone-Exposed Fetal Rat Gubernaculum Identifies Common Androgen and Insulin-Like 3 Targets1 
Biology of Reproduction  2013;89(6):143.
Androgens and insulin-like 3 (INSL3) are required for development of the fetal gubernaculum and testicular descent. Previous studies suggested that the INSL3-exposed fetal gubernacular transcriptome is enriched for genes involved in neural pathways. In the present study, we profiled the transcriptome of fetal gubernaculum explants exposed to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and compared this response to that with INSL3. We exposed fetal (Embryonic Day 17) rat gubernacula to DHT for 24 h (10 and 30 nM) or 6 h (1 and 10 nM) in organ culture and analyzed gene expression relative to that of vehicle-treated controls using Affymetrix arrays. Results were annotated using functional, pathway, and promoter analyses and independently validated for selected transcripts using quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR). Transcripts were differentially expressed after 24 h but not 6 h. Most highly overrepresented functional categories included those related to gene expression, skeletal and muscular development and function, and Wnt signaling. Promoter response elements enriched in the DHT-specific transcriptome included consensus sequences for c-ETS1, ELK1, CREB, CRE-BP1/c-June, NRF2, and USF. We observed that 55% of DHT probe sets were also differentially expressed after INSL3 exposure and that the direction of change was the same in 96%. The qRT-PCR results confirmed that DHT increased expression of the INSL3-responsive genes Crlf1 and Chrdl2 but reduced expression of Wnt4. We also validated reduced Tgfb2 and Cxcl12 and increased Slit3 expression following DHT exposure. These data suggest a robust overlap in the DHT- and INSL3-regulated transcriptome that may be mediated in part by CREB signaling and a common Wnt pathway response for both hormones in the fetal gubernaculum.
Exposure of the developing fetal rat gubernaculum to dihydrotestosterone in vitro produces a transcriptome response characterized by overrepresentation of Wnt signaling pathway genes and strong overlap with the effects of INSL3.
PMCID: PMC4076356  PMID: 24174575
androgens/androgen receptor; cryptorchidism; gene expression; gubernaculum; hormone action; male reproductive tract
9.  How the Kidney Is Impacted by the Perinatal Maternal Environment to Develop Hypertension1 
Biology of Reproduction  2013;89(6):144.
Environmental conditions during perinatal development such as maternal undernutrition, maternal glucocorticoids, placental insufficiency, and maternal sodium overload can program changes in renal Na+ excretion leading to hypertension. Experimental studies indicate that fetal exposure to an adverse maternal environment may reduce glomerular filtration rate by decreasing the surface area of the glomerular capillaries. Moreover, fetal responses to environmental insults during early life that contribute to the development of hypertension may include increased expression of tubular apical or basolateral membrane Na+ transporters and increased production of renal superoxide leading to enhanced Na+ reabsorption. This review will address the role of these potential renal mechanisms in the fetal programming of hypertension in experimental models induced by maternal undernutrition, fetal exposure to glucocorticoids, placental insufficiency, and maternal sodium overload in the rat.
The impact of adverse events during gestational life, on later cardio-renal health of the offspring is highlighted, implicating the importance of fetal life on long-term health.
PMCID: PMC4076357  PMID: 24227755
developmental origins of health and disease; hypertension; intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR); kidney; oxidative stress
10.  Investigating the Role of Tbx4 in the Female Germline in Mice1 
Biology of Reproduction  2013;89(6):148.
Normal development of germ cells is essential for fertility and mammalian reproduction. Although abnormal development of oocytes or follicles may lead to primary ovarian insufficiency (POI), a disorder that causes infertility in 1% of women less than 40 yr of age, the genes and signaling pathways activated in POI are not as yet fully elucidated. Tbx4, a member of the T-box family of transcription factors, is expressed in embryonic germ cells and postnatal oocytes at all stages of folliculogenesis. To investigate the requirement for Tbx4 in the germline, we analyzed germ cell development in the absence of Tbx4. We show that primordial germ cells (PGCs) are reduced in Tbx4 homozygous null (Tbx4−/−) embryos at Embryonic Day (E) 10.0. Tbx4−/− embryos die by E10.5; to study later time points in vitro, a tamoxifen-inducible estrogen receptor Cre recombinase was used to delete Tbx4 conditional mutant alleles. In addition, Gdf9cre and Zp3cre, two oocyte-specific Cre recombinases, were used to delete Tbx4 from postnatal primordial and primary follicles, respectively. We show that in vitro differentiation of the gonad into morphologically distinct testes and ovaries occurs normally starting at E11.5 when Tbx4 is deleted. In Gdf9cre; Tbx4fl/− and Zp3cre; Tbx4fl/− adult females, primordial, primary, secondary, and antral follicles form, ovulation occurs, corpus luteum formation is normal, and the mice are fertile without any evidence of diminished ovarian reserve. Although postnatal deletion of Tbx4 in oocytes does not obviously impair fertility, it is possible that the reduction in PGCs observed in Tbx4 homozygous null mutant embryos could affect long-term fertility in adults.
Postnatal oocyte-specific deletion of Tbx4 does not obviously impair fertility but reduces primordial germ cell number.
PMCID: PMC4076358  PMID: 24089201
fertility; oocytes; primordial germ cells; T-box; Tbx4
11.  1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 Reduces Extracellular Matrix-Associated Protein Expression in Human Uterine Fibroid Cells1 
Biology of Reproduction  2013;89(6):150.
Uterine fibroids (leiomyomas) are the most common benign tumors associated with excessive deposition of extracellular matrix (ECM)-associated proteins that increase fibroid tumorigenicity. Herein, we determined the expression levels of vitamin D receptor (VDR) protein in human uterine fibroids and compared these levels to those in adjacent normal myometrium. Using Western blot analysis, we found that more than 60% of uterine fibroids analyzed (25 of 40) expressed low levels of VDR. We also found that the biologically active 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25[OH]2D3), which functions via binding to its nuclear VDR, induced VDR in a concentration-dependent manner and reduced ECM-associated fibrotic and proteoglycans expression in immortalized human uterine fibroid cell line (HuLM). At 1–10 nM concentrations, 1,25(OH)2D3 significantly induced (P < 0.05) nuclear VDR, which was further stimulated by higher concentrations of 1,25(OH)2D3 in HuLM cells. 1,25(OH)2D3 at 10 nM also significantly reduced (P < 0.05) the protein expression of ECM-associated collagen type 1, fibronectin, and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) in HuLM cells. We also found that 1,25(OH)2D3 reduced mRNA and protein expressions of proteoglycans such as fibromodulin, biglycan, and versican in HuLM cells. Moreover, the aberrant expression of structural smooth muscle actin fibers was reduced by 1,25(OH)2D3 treatment in a concentration-dependent manner in HuLM cells. Taken together, our results suggest that human uterine fibroids express reduced levels of VDR compared to the adjacent normal myometrium and that treatment with 1,25(OH)2D3 can potentially reduce the aberrant expression of major ECM-associated proteins in HuLM cells. Thus, 1,25(OH)2D3 might be an effective, safe, nonsurgical treatment option for human uterine fibroids.
1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 is an antifibrotic agent that suppresses major extracellular matrix-associated protein expression in human uterine fibroid cells and might be useful as an alternative therapeutic option for fibroid treatment.
PMCID: PMC4076359  PMID: 24174578
1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25[OH]2D3); extracellular matrix (ECM); fibroids; vitamin D receptor (VDR)
12.  Expression Profiling Reveals Developmentally Regulated lncRNA Repertoire in the Mouse Male Germline1 
Biology of Reproduction  2013;89(5):107.
In mammals, the transcriptome of large noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) is believed to be greater than that of messenger RNAs (mRNAs). Some lncRNAs, especially large intergenic noncoding RNAs (lincRNAs), participate in epigenetic regulation by binding chromatin-modifying protein complexes and regulating protein-coding gene expression. Given that epigenetic regulation plays a critical role in male germline development, we embarked on expression profiling of both lncRNAs and mRNAs during male germline reprogramming and postnatal development using microarray analyses. We identified thousands of lncRNAs and hundreds of lincRNAs that are either up- or downregulated at six critical time points during male germ cell development. In addition, highly regulated lncRNAs were correlated with nearby (<30 kb) mRNA gene clusters, which were also significantly up- or downregulated. Large ncRNAs can be localized to both the nucleus and cytoplasm, with nuclear lncRNAs mostly associated with key components of the chromatin-remodeling protein complexes. Our data indicate that expression of lncRNAs is dynamically regulated during male germline development and that lncRNAs may function to regulate gene expression at both transcriptional and posttranscriptional levels via genetic and epigenetic mechanisms.
Dynamic expression of large noncoding RNAs and their interactions with chromatin-remodeling proteins suggests a critical role in the epigenetic regulation of male germline development and spermatogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4076377  PMID: 24048575
epigenetics; fertility; germ cell; reproduction; spermatogenesis
13.  Mouse Strain Does Not Influence the Overall Effects of Bisphenol A-Induced Toxicity in Adult Antral Follicles1 
Biology of Reproduction  2013;89(5):108.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is an endocrine-disrupting chemical (EDC) widely used in common consumer products containing polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Previous studies indicate that other EDCs have species-dependent effects. Furthermore, some EDCs are known to have different effects in different strains within the same species. Little information, however, is known about whether the effects of BPA on the ovary differ by strain. Previous studies have shown that BPA inhibits follicle growth, induces atresia, and inhibits steroidogenesis and expression of steroidogenic enzymes in antral follicles from adult FVB mice. Thus, this study was designed to expand previous work by testing the hypothesis that mouse strain may differentially affect the susceptibility of adult antral follicles to BPA-induced toxicity. To test this hypothesis, antral follicles were mechanically isolated from adult FVB, CD-1, and C57BL/6 mice, individually cultured for 6–120 h and treated with either vehicle control (dimethylsulfoxide) or various concentrations of BPA (1.0 μg/ml, 10 μg/ml, or 100 μg/ml). After culture, media were subjected to measurements of hormone production via ELISA, and follicles were subjected to real-time PCR for analysis of genes known to regulate steroidogenesis, the cell cycle, and atresia. Overall, BPA inhibited follicle growth and steroidogenesis in all tested strains, but CD-1 follicles were slightly more sensitive to BPA at early time points than FVB and C57BL/6 follicles. These data suggest that CD-1, FVB, and C57BL/6 mice can all be used to investigate the effects of BPA on ovarian follicles.
Mouse strain does not influence BPA-induced inhibition of follicle growth or steroidogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4076378  PMID: 24025742
bisphenol A; follicle growth; steroidogenesis; strain
14.  Impact of Vitrification on the Meiotic Spindle and Components of the Microtubule-Organizing Center in Mouse Mature Oocytes1 
Biology of Reproduction  2013;89(5):112.
Cryopreservation of oocytes is becoming a valuable method for fertility preservation in women. However, various unphysiological alterations occur in the oocyte during the course of cryopreservation, one of which is the disappearance of the meiotic spindle. Fortunately, the meiotic spindle does regenerate after thawing the frozen oocytes, which enables completion of meiosis and further development after fertilization. Nonetheless, the mechanistic understanding of the meiotic spindle regeneration after cryopreservation is still scarce. Here, to gain insight into the mechanisms of the spindle disappearance and regeneration, we examined the status of spindle microtubules as well as the key components of the microtubule-organizing center (MTOC), specifically gamma-Tubulin, NEDD1, and Pericentrin, in mature (metaphase II) mouse oocytes at different steps of vitrification, a major cryopreservation technique. We found that the configuration of the spindle microtubules dynamically changed during the process of vitrification and that spindle regeneration was preceded by excessive microtubule polymerization, followed by reduction into the normal size and shape. Also, all three MTOC components exhibited disappearance and reappearance during the vitrification process, although Pericentrin appeared to regenerate in earlier steps compared to the other components. Furthermore, we found that the localization of the MTOC components to the spindle poles persisted even after depolymerization of spindle microtubules, suggesting that the MTOC components are impacted by vitrification independently from the integrity of the microtubules. The present study would set the stage for future investigations on the molecular mechanisms of the meiotic spindle regeneration, which may contribute to further improving protocols for oocyte cryopreservation.
The integrity of the meiotic spindle in the metaphase II oocyte, including the localization of microtubule bundles and distribution of the MTOC components, is dynamically altered during the course of the vitrification process.
PMCID: PMC4076379  PMID: 24025740
assisted reproductive technology; cryopreservation; meiotic spindle; oocyte; vitrification
15.  Estrogen Responsiveness of the TFIID Subunit TAF4B in the Normal Mouse Ovary and in Ovarian Tumors1 
Biology of Reproduction  2013;89(5):116.
Estrogen signaling in the ovary is a fundamental component of normal ovarian function, and evidence also indicates that excessive estrogen is a risk factor for ovarian cancer. We have previously demonstrated that the gonadally enriched TFIID subunit TAF4B, a paralog of the general transcription factor TAF4A, is required for fertility in mice and for the proliferation of ovarian granulosa cells following hormonal stimulation. However, the relationship between TAF4B and estrogen signaling in the normal ovary or during ovarian tumor initiation and progression has yet to be defined. Herein, we show that Taf4b mRNA and TAF4B protein, but not Taf4a mRNA or TAF4A protein, are increased in whole ovaries and granulosa cells of the ovary after exposure to 17beta-estradiol or the synthetic estrogen diethylstilbestrol and that this response occurs within hours after stimulation. Furthermore, this increase occurs via nuclear estrogen receptors both in vivo and in a mouse granulosa cancer cell line, NT-1. We observe a significant increase in Taf4b mRNA in estrogen-supplemented mouse ovarian tumors, which correlates with diminished survival of these mice. These data highlight the novel response of the general transcription factor TAF4B to estrogen in the normal ovary and during ovarian tumor progression in the mouse, suggesting its potential role in regulating actions downstream of estrogen stimulation.
The transcription factor TAF4B, which is required for murine fertility, is upregulated by estrogen in the normal mouse ovary and in ovarian tumors via nuclear estrogen receptors.
PMCID: PMC4076380  PMID: 24068106
estradiol/estradiol receptor; ovarian cancer; ovary; premature ovarian failure; TAF4B
16.  Signaling in Sperm: Toward a Molecular Understanding of the Acquisition of Sperm Motility in the Mouse Epididymis1 
Biology of Reproduction  2013;89(5):127.
Sperm motility encompasses a wide range of events involving epididymal maturation and activation of biochemical pathways, most notably cyclic AMP (cAMP)-protein kinase A (PKA) activation. Following the discovery of guanine-nucleotide exchange factors (RAPGEFs), also known as exchange proteins activated by cAMP, we investigated the separate roles of PKA and RAPGEFs in sperm motility. RT-PCR showed the presence of Rapgef3, Rapgef4, and Rapgef5, as well as several known RAPGEF partner mRNAs, in spermatogenic cells. However, Rapgef3 and Rapgef4 appeared to be less abundant in condensing spermatids versus pachytene spermatocytes. Similarly, many of these proteins were detected by immunoblotting. RAPGEF5 was detected in germ cells and murine epididymal sperm. Indirect immunofluorescence localized SGK1, SGK3, AKT1 pT308, and RAPGEF5 to the acrosome, while PDPK1 was found in the postacrosomal region. SGK3 was present throughout the tail, while PDPK1 and AKT1 pT308 were in the midpiece. When motility was assessed in demembranated cauda epididymal sperm, addition of ATP and the selective ligand for RAPGEFs, 8-pCPT-2′-O-Me-cAMP, resulted in motility, but the sperm were unable to undergo hyperactivated-like motility. In contrast, when demembranated cauda epididymal sperm were incubated with ATP plus dibutyryl cAMP, sperm became motile and progressed to hyperactivated-like motility. However, no significant difference was observed when intact sperm were examined. GSK3 phosphorylation was altered in the presence of H89, a PKA inhibitor. Significantly, intact caput epididymal sperm became motile when incubated in the presence of extracellular ATP. These results provide evidence for a new pathway involved in endowing sperm with the capacity to swim.
Caput epididymal sperm become motile after exposure to extracellular ATP.
PMCID: PMC4076381  PMID: 24006282
epididymis; rodents (rats, mice, guinea pigs, voles); sperm; sperm maturation; sperm motility and transport
17.  Selective Ablation of Ppp1cc Gene in Testicular Germ Cells Causes Oligo-Teratozoospermia and Infertility in Mice1 
Biology of Reproduction  2013;89(5):128.
The four isoforms of serine/threonine phosphoprotein phosphatase 1 (PP1), derived from three genes, are among the most conserved proteins known. The Ppp1cc gene encodes two alternatively spliced variants, PP1 gamma1 (PPP1CC1) and PP1 gamma2 (PPP1CC2). Global deletion of the Ppp1cc gene, which causes loss of both isoforms, results in male infertility due to impaired spermatogenesis. This phenotype was assumed to be due to the loss of PPP1CC2, which is abundant in testis. While PPP1CC2 is predominant, other PP1 isoforms are also expressed in testis. Given the significant homology between the four PP1 isoforms, the lack of compensation by the other PP1 isoforms for loss of one, only in testis, is surprising. Here we document, for the first time, expression patterns of the PP1 isoforms in postnatal developing and adult mouse testis. The timing and sites of testis expression of PPP1CC1 and PPP1CC2 in testis are nonoverlapping. PPP1CC2 is the only one of the four PP1 isoforms not detected in sertoli cells and spermatogonia. Conversely, PPP1CC2 may be the only PP1 isoform expressed in postmeiotic germ cells. Deletion of the Ppp1cc gene in germ cells at the differentiated spermatogonia stage of development and beyond in Stra8 promoter-driven Cre transgenic mice results in oligo-terato-asthenozoospermia and male infertility, thus phenocopying global Ppp1cc null (−/−) mice. Taken together, these results confirm that spermatogenic defects observed in the global Ppp1cc knockout mice and in mice expressing low levels of PPP1CC2 in testis are due to compromised functions of PPP1CC2 in meiotic and postmeiotic germ cells.
PPP1CC1 expression in Sertoli cells and premeiotic germ cells does not substitute for the loss of the PPP1CC2 isoform in developing germ cells.
PMCID: PMC4076382  PMID: 24089200
CRE; conditional knockout; gametogenesis; knock down; male fertility; male infertility; phosphatases; phosphoprotein phosphatases; promoter; serine/threonine phosphatase; spermatogenesis; transgenic
18.  Maternal CD4+ and CD8+ T Cell Tolerance Towards a Fetal Minor Histocompatibility Antigen in T Cell Receptor Transgenic Mice1 
Biology of Reproduction  2013;89(4):102.
Tolerance of the maternal immune system in pregnancy is important for successful pregnancy because the semiallogeneic fetus may be subject to antifetal responses. We examined maternal tolerance to the fetus using a murine system in which a model paternally inherited antigen, ovalbumin (OVA), is expressed exclusively in the fetus and placenta. By employing T cell receptor (TCR) transgenic mice specific for major histocompatibility complex class I- or class II-restricted epitopes of OVA (OT-I and OT-II) as mothers, we investigated the fate of fetus-specific CD8+ and CD4+ T cells, respectively, during gestation. Both OVA-specific CD8+ and CD4+ T cells displayed an activated phenotype in the peripheral lymphoid tissues of OVA-bred OT-I and OT-II mice, consistent with their encounter of fetal antigen. Whereas a small percentage of OVA-specific CD4+ T cells were deleted in the periphery and thymus of OVA-bred OT-II mice, with evidence of TCR downregulation in the remaining T cells, deletion and TCR downregulation were not observed in OVA-bred OT-I mice. Both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells upregulated inducible costimulator expression in response to the fetal antigen, but only CD4+ T cells consistently upregulated the inhibitory receptors programmed cell death 1 and cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen-4. More regulatory T cells (Tregs) were present in pregnant OVA-bred than in WT-bred OT-II mice, revealing that Tregs expanded specifically in response to the fetal antigen. These data indicate that several mechanisms tolerize fetal antigen-specific maternal CD4+ T cells, whereas tolerance of fetal antigen-specific CD8+ T cells is less effective. The importance of these mechanisms is underscored by the finding that fetal loss occurs in OVA-bred OT-I but not OT-II mice.
Maternal CD4+ T cell tolerance mechanisms are complete in this model of fetal neoantigen, whereas CD8+ T cell tolerance intermittently failed.
PMCID: PMC4076394  PMID: 24025737
fetal antigen; MHC class I; MHC class II; pregnancy; T cells
19.  Cyclooxygenase-1 Inhibition Prolongs Postnatal Ovarian Follicle Lifespan in Mice1 
Biology of Reproduction  2013;89(4):103.
Menopause is the permanent cessation of menstruation that results from depletion of ovarian germ cells and follicles. Although most animals experience reproductive senescence, the mechanisms differ from that in women, who may live more than one-third of their lives after menopause and consequently face the risk of a number of menopause-associated health problems. Understanding factors that influence ovarian aging may provide strategies to delay or alleviate physiological alterations that take place in postmenopausal women. The germ cell-deficient Wv mice recapitulate follicle loss, prolong postreproductive lifespan, and model many physiological changes that take place in postmenopausal women. Here, using genetic and pharmacological approaches, we found that inhibition of cyclooxygenase-1 but not cyclooxygenase-2 in Wv mice delays germ cell depletion and preserves ovarian follicles. Cyclooxygenase-1 inhibition slows down follicle maturation at the conversion of primary to secondary follicles and prolongs postnatal ovarian follicle lifespan. The current study suggests that inhibition of cyclooxygenase-1 may be able to delay ovarian aging and modulate menopausal timing.
Cyclooxygenase-1 delays the maturation of primary follicles to secondary follicles and delays morphological signs of ovarian aging.
PMCID: PMC4076395  PMID: 23966321
cyclooxygenase; follicular development; menopause; ovarian follicles
20.  A Genome-Wide Analysis of Open Chromatin in Human Epididymis Epithelial Cells Reveals Candidate Regulatory Elements for Genes Coordinating Epididymal Function1 
Biology of Reproduction  2013;89(4):104.
The epithelium lining the epididymis has a pivotal role in ensuring a luminal environment that can support normal sperm maturation. Many of the individual genes that encode proteins involved in establishing the epididymal luminal fluid are well characterized. They include ion channels, ion exchangers, transporters, and solute carriers. However, the molecular mechanisms that coordinate expression of these genes and modulate their activities in response to biological stimuli are less well understood. To identify cis-regulatory elements for genes expressed in human epididymis epithelial cells, we generated genome-wide maps of open chromatin by DNase-seq. This analysis identified 33 542 epididymis-selective DNase I hypersensitive sites (DHS), which were not evident in five cell types of different lineages. Identification of genes with epididymis-selective DHS at their promoters revealed gene pathways that are active in immature epididymis epithelial cells. These include processes correlating with epithelial function and also others with specific roles in the epididymis, including retinol metabolism and ascorbate and aldarate metabolism. Peaks of epididymis-selective chromatin were seen in the androgen receptor gene and the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene, which has a critical role in regulating ion transport across the epididymis epithelium. In silico prediction of transcription factor binding sites that were overrepresented in epididymis-selective DHS identified epithelial transcription factors, including ELF5 and ELF3, the androgen receptor, Pax2, and Sox9, as components of epididymis transcriptional networks. Active genes, which are targets of each transcription factor, reveal important biological processes in the epididymis epithelium.
Open chromatin in human epididymis epithelial cells reveals transcription factor networks that may coordinate normal gene expression.
PMCID: PMC4076396  PMID: 24006278
epididymis epithelium; male infertility; sperm maturation; transcriptional regulation
21.  Role of LIN28A in Mouse and Human Trophoblast Cell Differentiation1 
Biology of Reproduction  2013;89(4):95.
Proper regulation of trophoblast proliferation, differentiation, and function are critical for placenta development and function. The RNA-binding protein, LIN28A, has been well characterized as a potent regulator of differentiation in embryonic stem cells; however, little is known about the function of LIN28A in the placenta. We assessed LIN28A in vitro using mouse trophoblast stem (mTS) cells and human trophoblast cells (ACH-3P). We observed that LIN28A decreased and let-7 miRNA increased when mTS cells were induced to differentiate into mouse trophoblast giant cells (mTGCs) upon the removal of FGF4, heparin and conditioned medium. Similarly, we observed that LIN28A decreased in ACH-3P cells induced to syncytialize with forskolin treatment. To assess LIN28A in vivo we examined Embryonic Day 11.5 mouse placenta and observed abundant LIN28A in the chorioallantoic interface and labyrinth layer, with little LIN28A staining in spongiotrophoblast or differentiated mTGCs. Additionally, shRNA-mediated LIN28A knockdown in ACH-3P cells resulted in increased spontaneous syncytialization, and increased levels of syncytiotrophoblast markers hCG, LGALS13, and ERVW-1 mRNA. Additionally, targeted degradation of LIN28A mRNA increased responsiveness to forskolin-induced differentiation. In contrast, targeted degradation of Lin28a mRNA in mTS cells did not alter cell phenotype when maintained under proliferative culture conditions. Together, these data establish that LIN28A has a functional role in regulating trophoblast differentiation and function, and that loss of LIN28A in human trophoblast is sufficient to induce differentiation, but does not induce differentiation in the mouse.
LIN28A regulates trophoblast differentiation.
PMCID: PMC4076397  PMID: 24006280
differentiation; LIN28A; placenta; syncytiotrophoblast; trophoblast
22.  Prenatal Testosterone Induces Sex-Specific Dysfunction in Endothelium-Dependent Relaxation Pathways in Adult Male and Female Rats1 
Biology of Reproduction  2013;89(4):97.
Prenatal testosterone (T) exposure impacts postnatal cardiovascular function, leading to increases in blood pressure with associated decreased endothelium-dependent vascular relaxation in adult females. Endothelial function in males is not known. Furthermore, which of the endothelial pathways contributes to endothelial dysfunction and if there exists sex differences are not known. The objective of this study was to characterize the relative contribution of nitric oxide (NO) and endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor (EDHF) to the impaired endothelium-dependent vasodilation in prenatal T-exposed adult males and females. Offspring of pregnant rats treated with T propionate or its vehicle were examined. Telemetric blood pressure levels and endothelium-dependent vascular reactivity were assessed with wire myography. Levels of nitric oxide synthase (NOS3) and Kcnn3 and Kcnn4 channel expression were examined in mesenteric arteries. Mean arterial pressure was significantly higher in T males and females than in controls. Endothelium-dependent acetylcholine relaxation was significantly lower in both T males and females. EDHF-mediated relaxation was specifically blunted in T males (Emax = 48.64% ± 3.73%) compared to that in control males (Emax = 81.71% ± 3.18%); however, NO-mediated relaxation was specifically impaired in T females (Emax = 36.01% ± 4.29%) compared with that in control females (Emax = 54.56% ± 6.37%). Relaxation to sodium nitroprusside and levcromakalim were unaffected with T-treatment. NOS3 protein was decreased in T females but not in T males. Kcnn3 expression was decreased in both T males and females compared to controls. These findings suggest that prenatal T leads to an increase in blood pressure in the adult offspring, associated with blunting of endothelial cell-associated relaxation and that the effects are sex-specific: EDHF-related in males and NO-related in females.
Prenatal testosterone leads to increases in blood pressure during adult life associated with blunting of endothelial cell-associated relaxations, and the effects are sex-specific: EDHF-related in males and NO-related in females.
PMCID: PMC4076398  PMID: 23966325
blood pressure; EDHF; endothelium; Kcnn3 channels; NO; NOS3; prenatal testosterone; sex-specific; vascular function
23.  Translational Activation of Developmental Messenger RNAs During Neonatal Mouse Testis Development1 
Biology of Reproduction  2013;89(3):61.
The basic tenets of germ cell development are conserved among metazoans. Following lineage commitment in the embryo, germ cells proliferate, transition into meiosis, and then differentiate into gametes capable of fertilization. In lower organisms such as Drosophila and C. elegans, germline stem cells make the decision to proliferate or enter meiosis based in large part on the regulated expression of genes by translational control. This study undertakes a direct characterization of mRNAs that experience translational control and their involvement in similar decisions in the mammalian testis. We previously showed that translation of mRNA encoding the germ cell-specific gene Rhox13 was suppressed in the fetal and neonatal testis. By investigating changes in message utilization during neonatal testis development, we found that a large number of mRNAs encoding both housekeeping and germ cell-specific proteins experience enhanced translational efficiency, rather than increase in abundance, in the testis as quiescent gonocytes transition to mitotic spermatogonia. Our results indicate that translational control is a significant regulator of the germ cell proteome during neonatal testis development.
A developmental increase in cap-dependent translation in neonatal male germ cells accompanies enhanced translation of specific mRNAs.
PMCID: PMC4094195  PMID: 23926285
gonocyte; spermatogenesis; spermatogonia; testis; translation
24.  Oxidative Damage to Rhesus Macaque Spermatozoa Results in Mitotic Arrest and Transcript Abundance Changes in Early Embryos1 
Biology of Reproduction  2013;89(3):72.
Our objective was to determine whether oxidative damage of rhesus macaque sperm induced by reactive oxygen species (ROS) in vitro would affect embryo development following intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) of metaphase II (MII) oocytes. Fresh rhesus macaque spermatozoa were treated with ROS as follows: 1 mM xanthine and 0.1 U/ml xanthine oxidase (XXO) at 37°C and 5% CO2 in air for 2.25 h. Sperm were then assessed for motility, viability, and lipid peroxidation. Motile ROS-treated and control sperm were used for ICSI of MII oocytes. Embryo culture was evaluated for 3 days for development to the eight-cell stage. Embryos were fixed and stained for signs of cytoplasmic and nuclear abnormalities. Gene expression was analyzed by RNA-Seq in two-cell embryos from control and treated groups. Exposure of sperm to XXO resulted in increased lipid peroxidation and decreased sperm motility. ICSI of MII oocytes with motile sperm induced similar rates of fertilization and cleavage between treatments. Development to four- and eight-cell stage was significantly lower for embryos generated with ROS-treated sperm than for controls. All embryos produced from ROS-treated sperm demonstrated permanent embryonic arrest and varying degrees of degeneration and nuclear fragmentation, changes that are suggestive of prolonged senescence or apoptotic cell death. RNA-Seq analysis of two-cell embryos showed changes in transcript abundance resulting from sperm treatment with ROS. Differentially expressed genes were enriched for processes associated with cytoskeletal organization, cell adhesion, and protein phosphorylation. ROS-induced damage to sperm adversely affects embryo development by contributing to mitotic arrest after ICSI of MII rhesus oocytes. Changes in transcript abundance in embryos destined for mitotic arrest is evident at the two-cell stage of development.
Oxidative damage to rhesus monkey sperm results in mitotic arrest and abnormal gene expression during the oocyte-to-zygotic transition.
PMCID: PMC4094196  PMID: 23904511
early development; embryo development; fertilization; gene expression; oxidative stress; sperm
25.  Activation of the PKC Pathway Stimulates Ovarian Cancer Cell Proliferation, Migration, and Expression of MMP7 and MMP101 
Biology of Reproduction  2013;89(3):73.
Postmenopausal women are at a higher risk of ovarian cancer due, in part, to increased levels of gonadotropins such as luteinizing hormone (LH). Gonadotropins and other stimuli are capable of activating two pathways, PKA and PKC, that are altered in ovarian cancer. To determine the role of LH on ovarian cancer, we explored the effects of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), an LH mimic, and an activator of the PKC pathway, phorbol-12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA), on ovarian cancer cell-cycle kinetics and apoptosis in Ovcar3 cells. PMA treatment increased cells in the S phase of the cell cycle and initially increased apoptosis after 4 h before diminishing apoptosis after 8 h. Treatment of ovarian cancer cells with hCG had no effect on these parameters. The PKC pathway is known to differentially regulate matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) expression. Results showed that ovarian cancer cells treated with PMA increased MMP7 and MMP10 mRNA levels after 8 h of treatment, and expression remained high after 12 h before decreasing at 24 h. The mRNA expression of extracellular matrix metalloproteinase inducer (BSG), an activator of MMPs, was unaffected by PMA. Due to the role that MMPs play in migration, we investigated the effect of PMA activation of MMPs on ovarian cancer cell migration. The use of the MMP inhibitor GM6001 blocked the increased migratory effects of PMA on ovarian cancer cells. Together, these studies show that activating the PKC pathway causes significant changes in cell cycle kinetics and selective expression of MMPs that are involved in enhancing ovarian cancer cell proliferation and migration.
Activation of the PKC pathway increases ovarian cancer migration that is associated with an increase in MMP7 and MMP10.
PMCID: PMC4094197  PMID: 23843242
cancer; gene expression; migration; MMPs; ovary

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