Prostaglandins play an important role in ureteral obstruction, but the detailed expression profiles of the prostaglandin receptors (PTGER1, PTGER2, PTGER3, PTGER4, PTGFR) remain unknown in the different parts of the human ureter.
The expression pattern of PTGER1, PTGER2, PTGER3, PTGER4 and PTGFR was determined in human distal, mid and proximal ureter and renal pelvis samples using immunohistochemistry (protein levels) and quantitative real-time PCR (mRNA).
PTGER1 was highly expressed in most samples irrespective of the ureteral localization; however, urothelial cells had higher levels of PTGER1 than smooth muscle cells. PTGFR was also moderately to strongly expressed in urothelial and smooth muscle cells. In comparison, PTGER2-4 expression was mostly unexpressed or weakly expressed in urothelial and smooth cells in all regions.
Our data indicate high levels of PTGER1 in ureters.
Prostaglandin receptor; PTGER1; EP1; Ureter; Cyclooxygenase
Lymphoid-specific helicase (HELLS; also known as LSH) is a member of the SNF2 family of chromatin remodeling proteins. Because Hells-null mice die at birth, a phenotype in male meiosis cannot be studied in these animals. Allografting of testis tissue from Hells−/− to wild-type mice was employed to study postnatal germ cell differentiation. Testes harvested at Day 18.5 of gestation from Hells−/−, Hells+/−, and Hells+/+ mice were grafted ectopically to immunodeficient mice. Bromodeoxyuridine incorporation at 1 wk postgrafting revealed fewer dividing germ cells in grafts from Hells−/− than from Hells+/+ mice. Whereas spermatogenesis proceeded through meiosis with round spermatids in grafts from Hells heterozygote and wild-type donor testes, spermatogenesis arrested at stage IV, and midpachytene spermatocytes were the most advanced germ cell type in grafts from Hells−/− mice at 4, 6, and 8 wk after grafting. Analysis of meiotic configurations at 22 days posttransplantation revealed an increase in Hells−/− spermatocytes with abnormal chromosome synapsis. These results indicate that in the absence of HELLS, proliferation of spermatogonia is reduced and germ cell differentiation arrested at the midpachytene stage, implicating an essential role for HELLS during male meiosis. This study highlights the utility of testis tissue grafting to study spermatogenesis in animal models that cannot reach sexual maturity.
Lymphoid-specific helicase (HELLS) plays an essential role during meiotic chromosome synapsis in the mouse testis.
chromosomes; developmental biology; HELLS; LSH; meiosis; spermatogenesis; testis; transplantation
Pairing of the sex chromosomes during mammalian meiosis is characterized by the formation of a unique heterochromatin structure at the XY body. The mechanisms underlying the formation of this nuclear domain are reportedly highly conserved from marsupials to mammals. In this study, we demonstrate that in contrast to all eutherian species studied to date, partial synapsis of the heterologous sex chromosomes during pachytene stage in the horse is not associated with the formation of a typical macrochromatin domain at the XY body. While phosphorylated histone H2AX (γH2AX) and macroH2A1.2 are present as a diffuse signal over the entire macrochromatin domain in mouse pachytene spermatocytes, γH2AX, macroH2A1.2, and the cohesin subunit SMC3 are preferentially enriched at meiotic sex chromosome cores in equine spermatocytes. Moreover, although several histone modifications associated with this nuclear domain in the mouse such as H3K4me2 and ubH2A are conspicuously absent in the equine XY body, prominent RNA polymerase II foci persist at the sex chromosomes. Thus, the localization of key marker proteins and histone modifications associated with the XY body in the horse differs significantly from all other mammalian systems described. These results demonstrate that the epigenetic landscape and heterochromatinization of the equine XY body might be regulated by alternative mechanisms and that some features of XY body formation may be evolutionary divergent in the domestic horse. We propose equine spermatogenesis as a unique model system for the study of the regulatory networks leading to the epigenetic control of gene expression during XY body formation.
Global histone modifications have been implicated in the progression of various tumour entities. Our study was designed to assess global methylation levels of histone 4 lysine 20 (H4K20me1-3) at different stages of prostate cancer (PCA) carcinogenesis.
Global H4K20 methylation levels were evaluated using a tissue microarray in patients with clinically localized PCA (n = 113), non-malignant prostate disease (n = 27), metastatic hormone-naive PCA (mPCA, n = 30) and castration-resistant PCA (CRPC, n = 34). Immunohistochemistry was performed to assess global levels of H4K20 methylation levels.
Similar proportions of the normal, PCA, and mPCA prostate tissues showed strong H4K20me3 staining. CRPC tissue analysis showed the weakest immunostaining levels of H4K20me1 and H4K20me2, compared to other prostate tissues. H4K20me2 methylation levels indicated significant differences in examined tissues except for normal prostate versus PCA tissue. H4K20me1 differentiates CRPC from other prostate tissues. H4K20me1 was significantly correlated with lymph node metastases, and H4K20me2 showed a significant correlation with the Gleason score. However, H4K20 methylation levels failed to predict PSA recurrence after radical prostatectomy.
H4K20 methylation levels constitute valuable markers for the dynamic process of prostate cancer carcinogenesis.
Histone; Methylation; H4K20; Prostate cancer; Epigenetics
Functional differentiation of chromatin structure is essential for the control of gene expression, nuclear architecture, and chromosome stability. Compelling evidence indicates that alterations in chromatin remodeling proteins play an important role in the pathogenesis of human disease. Among these, α-thalassemia mental retardation X-linked protein (ATRX) has recently emerged as a critical factor involved in heterochromatin formation at mammalian centromeres and telomeres as well as facultative heterochromatin on the murine inactive X chromosome. Mutations in human ATRX result in an X-linked neurodevelopmental condition with various degrees of gonadal dysgenesis (ATRX syndrome). Patients with ATRX syndrome may exhibit skewed X chromosome inactivation (XCI) patterns, and ATRX-deficient mice exhibit abnormal imprinted XCI in the trophoblast cell line. Non-random or skewed XCI can potentially affect both the onset and severity of X-linked disease. Notably, failure to establish epigenetic modifications associated with the inactive X chromosome (Xi) results in several conditions that exhibit genomic and chromosome instability such as fragile X syndrome as well as cancer development. Insight into the molecular mechanisms of ATRX function and its interacting partners in different tissues will no doubt contribute to our understanding of the pathogenesis of ATRX syndrome as well as the epigenetic origins of aneuploidy. In turn, this knowledge will be essential for the identification of novel drug targets and diagnostic tools for cancer progression as well as the therapeutic management of global epigenetic changes commonly associated with malignant neoplastic transformation.
Polycomb group proteins (PcG) are major epigenetic regulators, essential for establishing heritable expression patterns of developmental control genes. The mouse PcG family member M33/Cbx2 (Chromobox homolog protein 2) is a component of the Polycomb-Repressive Complex 1 (PRC1). Targeted deletion of Cbx2/M33 in mice results in homeotic transformations of the axial skeleton, growth retardation and male-to-female sex reversal. In this study, we tested whether Cbx2 is involved in the control of chromatin remodeling processes during meiosis. Our analysis revealed sex reversal in 28.6% of XY−/− embryos, in which a hypoplastic testis and a contralateral ovary were observed in close proximity to the kidney, while the remaining male mutant fetuses exhibited bilateral testicular hypoplasia. Notably, germ cells recovered from Cbx2(XY−/−) testes on day 18.5 of fetal development exhibited premature meiosis onset with synaptonemal complex formation suggesting a role for Cbx2 in the control of meiotic entry in male germ cells. Mutant females exhibited small ovaries with significant germ cell loss and a high proportion of oocytes with abnormal synapsis and non-homologous interactions at the pachytene stage as well as formation of univalents at diplotene. These defects were associated with failure to resolve DNA double strand breaks marked by persistent γH2AX and Rad51 foci at the late pachytene stage. Importantly, two factors required for meiotic silencing of asynapsed chromatin, ubiquitinated histone H2A (ubH2A) and the chromatin remodeling protein BRCA1, co-localized with fully synapsed chromosome axes in the majority of Cbx2(−/−) oocytes. These results provide novel evidence that Cbx2 plays a critical and previously unrecognized role in germ cell viability, meiosis onset and homologous chromosome synapsis in the mammalian germline.
oogenesis; pericentric heterochromatin; epigenetic modifications; chromatin remodeling; retinoic acid; sex determination
The α-thalassemia/mental retardation X-linked protein (ATRX) is a chromatin-remodeling factor known to regulate DNA methylation at repetitive sequences of the human genome. We have previously demonstrated that ATRX binds to pericentric heterochromatin domains in mouse oocytes at the metaphase II stage where it is involved in mediating chromosome alignment at the meiotic spindle. However, the role of ATRX in the functional differentiation of chromatin structure during meiosis is not known. To test ATRX function in the germ line, we developed an oocyte-specific transgenic RNAi knockdown mouse model. Our results demonstrate that ATRX is required for heterochromatin formation and maintenance of chromosome stability during meiosis. During prophase I arrest, ATRX is necessary to recruit the transcriptional regulator DAXX (death domain associated protein) to pericentric heterochromatin. At the metaphase II stage, transgenic ATRX-RNAi oocytes exhibit abnormal chromosome morphology associated with reduced phosphorylation of histone 3 at serine 10 as well as chromosome segregation defects leading to aneuploidy and severely reduced fertility. Notably, a large proportion of ATRX-depleted oocytes and 1-cell stage embryos exhibit chromosome fragments and centromeric DNA–containing micronuclei. Our results provide novel evidence indicating that ATRX is required for centromere stability and the epigenetic control of heterochromatin function during meiosis and the transition to the first mitosis.
The transmission of an abnormal chromosome complement from the gametes to the early embryo, a condition called aneuploidy, is a major cause of congenital birth defects and pregnancy loss. Human embryos are particularly susceptible to aneuploidy, which in the majority of cases is the result of abnormal meiosis in the female gamete. However, the molecular mechanisms involved in the onset of aneuploidy in mammalian oocytes are not fully understood. We show here that, the α-thalassemia/mental retardation X-linked protein (ATRX) is essential for the maintenance of chromosome stability during female meiosis. ATRX is required to recruit the transcriptional regulator DAXX to pericentric heterochromatin at prophase I of meiosis. Notably, lack of ATRX function at the metaphase II stage interferes with the establishment of chromatin modifications associated with chromosome condensation leading to segregation defects, chromosome fragmentation, and severely reduced fertility. Our results provide direct evidence for a role of ATRX in the regulation of pericentric heterochromatin structure and function in mammalian oocytes and have important implications for our understanding of the epigenetic factors contributing to the onset of aneuploidy in the female gamete.
In spite of the impact of aneuploidy on human health little is known concerning the molecular mechanisms involved in the formation of structural or numerical chromosome abnormalities during meiosis. Here, we provide novel evidence indicating that lack of PARP-1 function during oogenesis predisposes the female gamete to genome instability. During prophase I of meiosis, a high proportion of Parp-1 (−/−) mouse oocytes exhibit a spectrum of meiotic defects including incomplete homologous chromosome synapsis or persistent histone H2AX phosphorylation in fully synapsed chromosomes at the late pachytene stage. Moreover, the X chromosome bivalent is also prone to exhibit persistent double strand DNA breaks (DSBs). In striking contrast, such defects were not detected in mutant pachytene spermatocytes. In fully-grown wild type oocytes at the germinal vesicle stage, PARP-1 protein associates with nuclear speckles and upon meiotic resumption, undergoes a striking re-localization towards spindle poles as well as pericentric heterochromatin domains at the metaphase II stage. Notably, a high proportion of in vivo matured Parp-1 (−/−) oocytes show lack of recruitment of the kinetochore-associated protein BUB3 to centromeric domains and fail to maintain metaphase II arrest. Defects in chromatin modifications in the form of persistent histone H2AX phosphorylation during prophase I of meiosis and deficient sister chromatid cohesion during metaphase II predispose mutant oocytes to premature anaphase II onset upon removal from the oviductal environment. Our results indicate that PARP-1 plays a critical role in the maintenance of chromosome stability at key stages of meiosis in the female germ line. Moreover, in the metaphase II stage oocyte PARP-1 is required for the regulation of centromere structure and function through a mechanism that involves the recruitment of BUB3 protein to centromeric domains.
Meiosis; Pericentric Heterochromatin; Epigenetic Modifications; Aneuploidy; BUB3; Chromatin remodeling; Genome Instability
Mammalian X chromosome inactivation (XCI) is an essential mechanism to compensate for dosage imbalances between male and female embryos. Although the molecular pathways are not fully understood, heterochromatinization of the Xi requires the coordinate recruitment of multiple epigenetic marks. Using fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis combined with immunocytochemistry, we demonstrate that the chromatin remodeling protein ATRX decorates the chromatids of a single, late replicating X chromosome in female somatic cells and co-localizes with the bona fide marker of the Xi, macroH2A1.2. Chromatin immunoprecipitation using somatic, embryonic stem (ES) cells and trophoblast stem (TS) cells as model for random and imprinted XCI, respectively, revealed that, in somatic and TS cells, ATRX exhibits a specific association with sequences located within the previously described H3K9me2-hotspot, a region 5′ to the X inactive-specific transcript (Xist) locus. While no ATRX-Xi interaction was detectable in undifferentiated ES cells, an enrichment of ATRX was observed after 8 days of differentiation, indicating that ATRX associates with the Xi following the onset of random XCI, consistent with a potential role in maintenance of XCI. These results have important implications regarding a previously described escape from imprinted XCI in ATRX-deficient mice as well as cases of skewed XCI in patients with ATRX syndrome.
Establishment of chromosomal cytosine methylation and histone methylation patterns are critical epigenetic modifications required for heterochromatin formation in the mammalian genome. However, the nature of the primary signal(s) targeting DNA methylation at specific genomic regions is not clear. Notably, whether histone methylation and/or chromatin remodeling proteins play a role in the establishment of DNA methylation during gametogenesis is not known. The chromosomes of mouse neonatal spermatogonia display a unique pattern of 5-methyl cytosine staining whereby centromeric heterochromatin is hypo-methylated whereas chromatids are strongly methylated. Thus, in order to gain some insight into the relationship between global DNA and histone methylation in the germ line we have used neonatal spermatogonia as a model to determine whether these unique chromosomal DNA methylation patterns are also reflected by concomitant changes in histone methylation.
Our results demonstrate that histone H3 tri-methylated at lysine 9 (H3K9me3), a hallmark of constitutive heterochromatin, as well as the chromatin remodeling protein ATRX remained associated with pericentric heterochromatin regions in spite of their extensive hypo-methylation. This suggests that in neonatal spermatogonia, chromosomal 5-methyl cytosine patterns are regulated independently of changes in histone methylation, potentially reflecting a crucial mechanism to maintain pericentric heterochromatin silencing. Furthermore, chromatin immunoprecipitation and fluorescence in situ hybridization, revealed that ATRX as well as H3K9me3 associate with Y chromosome-specific DNA sequences and decorate both arms of the Y chromosome, suggesting a possible role in heterochromatinization and the predominant transcriptional quiescence of this chromosome during spermatogenesis.
These results are consistent with a role for histone modifications and chromatin remodeling proteins such as ATRX in maintaining transcriptional repression at constitutive heterochromatin domains in the absence of 5-methyl cytosine and provide evidence suggesting that the establishment and/or maintenance of repressive histone and chromatin modifications at pericentric heterochromatin following genome-wide epigenetic reprogramming in the germ line may precede the establishment of chromosomal 5-methyl cytosine patterns as a genomic silencing strategy in neonatal spermatogonia.
During meiosis, the arrangement of homologous chromosomes is tightly regulated by the synaptonemal complex (SC). Each SC consists of two axial/lateral elements (AEs/LEs), and numerous transverse filaments. SC protein 2 (SYCP2) and SYCP3 are integral components of AEs/LEs in mammals. We find that SYCP2 forms heterodimers with SYCP3 both in vitro and in vivo. An evolutionarily conserved coiled coil domain in SYCP2 is required for binding to SYCP3. We generated a mutant Sycp2 allele in mice that lacks the coiled coil domain. The fertility of homozygous Sycp2 mutant mice is sexually dimorphic; males are sterile because of a block in meiosis, whereas females are subfertile with sharply reduced litter size. Sycp2 mutant spermatocytes exhibit failure in the formation of AEs and chromosomal synapsis. Strikingly, the mutant SYCP2 protein localizes to axial chromosomal cores in both spermatocytes and fetal oocytes, but SYCP3 does not, demonstrating that SYCP2 is a primary determinant of AEs/LEs and, thus, is required for the incorporation of SYCP3 into SCs.
Human epididymal protein 6 (HE6; also known as GPR64) is an orphan member of the LNB-7TM (B2) subfamily of G-protein-coupled receptors. Family members are characterized by the dual presence of a secretin-like (type II) seven-transmembrane (7TM) domain and a long cell adhesion-like extracellular domain. HE6 is specifically expressed within the efferent ductules and the initial segment of the epididymis, ductal systems involved in spermatozoon maturation. Here, we report that targeted deletion of the 7TM domain of the murine HE6 gene results in male infertility. Mutant mice reveal a dysregulation of fluid reabsorbtion within the efferent ductules, leading to a backup of fluid accumulation in the testis and a subsequent stasis of spermatozoa within the efferent ducts. The fertility phenotype of HE6 knockout mice identifies this receptor as a potential nonsteroidal, nontesticular target for future male contraceptives and identifies an in vivo function for a member of this unusual gene family.