GATA4 is a negative regulator of contractility in mouse testicular peritubular myoid cells

in Reproduction

Reduced contractility of the testicular peritubular myoid (PTM) cells may contribute to human male subfertility or infertility. Transcription factor GATA4 in Sertoli and Leydig cells is essential for murine spermatogenesis, but limited attention has been paid to the potential role of GATA4 in PTM cells. In primary cultures of mouse PTM cells, siRNA knockdown of GATA4 increased the contractile activity, while GATA4 overexpression significantly attenuated the contractility of PTM cells using a collagen gel contraction assay. Using RNA sequencing and qRT-PCR, we identified a set of genes that exhibited opposite expressional alternation between Gata4 siRNA vs nontargeting siRNA-treated PTM cells and Gata4 adenovirus vs control adenovirus-treated PTM cells. Notably, ion channels, smooth muscle function, cytokines and chemokines, cytoskeleton, adhesion and extracellular matrix were the top four enriched pathways, as revealed by cluster analysis. Natriuretic peptide type B (NPPB) content was significantly upregulated by GATA4 overexpression in both PTM cells and their culture supernatant. More importantly, the addition of 100 μM NPPB could abolish the promoting effect of Gata4 silencing on PTM cell contraction. Taken together, we suggest that the inhibitory action of GATA4 on PTM cell contraction is mediated at least partly by regulating genes belonging to smooth muscle contraction pathway (e.g. Nppb).


    Society for Reproduction and Fertility

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    GATA4 localization in PTM cells within mouse adult testes. (A) Immunofluorescence staining for a PTM cell marker MYH11 (green signals) on the tissue sections of 8-week-old testes. Nuclei were stained with DAPI. (B) GATA4 detection by immunohistochemical staining (brown signals) in 8-week-old testis sections. Scale bar, 50 μm. Arrowheads indicate PTM cells at the periphery of seminiferous tubules.

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    PTM cell isolation and alternation of GATA4 expression. (A) Representative image of isolated cells staining with a PTM cell marker α-SMA (red signals). Nuclei were stained with DAPI. Scale bar, 10 μm. (B) Histogram illustrating the purity of isolated PTM cells, indicated by the percentage of α-SMA-positive cells. (C) Immunocytochemistry staining of GATA4 (brown signals) in Gata4 siRNA- and nontargeting siRNA-transfected PTM cells. Scale bar, 50 μm. (D) Relative mRNA level of Gata4 in Gata4 siRNA- and nontargeting siRNA-transfected PTM cells. (E) Cell staining of GATA4 in Gata4 adenovirus- and control adenovirus-infected PTM cells. Scale bar, 50 μm. (F) Altered mRNA level of Gata4 in PTM cells after Gata4 adenovirus infection. In B, D, F, data are presented as the mean ± s.e.m. ** indicates P < 0.01 by Student’s t test.

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    Negative regulation of PTM cell contraction by GATA4. (A) Collagen contractility assay in PTM cells transfected with Gata4 siRNA or Gata4 adenovirus or their nontargeting controls for 2 days. (B) Quantitative data showing the contraction area (cm2) in Gata4 siRNA-, Gata4 adenovirus- and their control-treated PTM cells. Data are presented as the mean ± s.e.m. *indicates P < 0.05, ** indicates P < 0.01 by Student’s t test. (C) Immunofluorescence images showing the distribution of α-SMA in treated PTM cells. α-SMA filaments organized in strongly labeled stress fibers after Gata4 silencing. Scale bar, 10 μm.

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    Gene expression profile of Gata4-silenced and -overexpressed PTM cells. (A) RNA sequencing discovering 91 GATA4-positively regulated genes and 32 genes that are negatively regulated by GATA4 in PTM cells. Table of biologic processes enriched in differentially expressed genes (KEGG analysis). (B, C, D and E) Expression levels (FPKM values) of selected gene sets, which are displayed with activities of ion channels (B), smooth muscle function (C), cytokines and chemokines (D), and cytoskeleton, adhesion and ECM (E) in Gata4 siRNA-, Gata4 adenovirus- and control-treated PTM cells. Red frames indicate genes that were further confirmed by qRT-PCR.

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    Dysregulation of genes implicated in ion channels and smooth muscle contraction in Gata4-overexpressed PTM cells. (A, B, C and D) Differential expression of genes belonging to ion channels, such as Kcnk12 (A), Kcnq5 (B), Atpla3 (C) and Nalcn (D) between Gata4 adenovirus- and control-treated PTM cells. (E, F, G and H) The mRNA levels of genes implicated in smooth muscle contraction, such as Nppb (E), Gpr4 (F), Ednrb (G) and Agt (H) in Gata4-overexpressed and control groups. (I) Analysis of the content of NPPB (pg/mL) in Gata4 adenovirus- or nontargeting control-transfected PTM cells and their culture media by ELISA assay. M, culture media; C, cells. (J) Quantitative data showing the contraction area (cm2) in control-, Gata4 siRNA alone-, Gata4 siRNA plus 100 μM NPPB-treated PTM cells. Data are presented as the mean ± s.e.m. * indicates P < 0.05, **indicates P < 0.01 by Student’s t test. (K) Hypothetical and simplified model of critical factors (e.g. NPPB) involved in the regulation of PTM contraction by GATA4.


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