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Kasane Kishi, Aya Uchida, Hinako M Takase, Hitomi Suzuki, Masamichi Kurohmaru, Naoki Tsunekawa, Masami Kanai-Azuma, Stephen A Wood, and Yoshiakira Kanai

USP9X (ubiquitin-specific peptidase 9, X chromosome) is the mammalian orthologue of Drosophila deubiquitinase fat facets that was previously shown to regulate the maintenance of the germ cell lineage partially through stabilizing Vasa, one of the widely conserved factors crucial for gametogenesis. Here, we demonstrate that USP9X is expressed in the gonocytes and spermatogonia in mouse testes from newborn to adult stages. By using Vasa-Cre mice, germ cell-specific conditional deletion of Usp9x from the embryonic stage showed no abnormality in the developing testes by 1 week and no appreciable defects in the undifferentiated and differentiating spermatogonia at postnatal and adult stages. Interestingly, after 2 weeks, Usp9x-null spermatogenic cells underwent apoptotic cell death at the early spermatocyte stage, and then, caused subsequent aberrant spermiogenesis, which resulted in a complete infertility of Usp9x conditional knockout male mice. These data provide the first evidence of the crucial role of the spermatogonial USP9X during transition from the mitotic to meiotic phases and/or maintenance of early meiotic phase in Usp9x conditional knockout testes.

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Takeshi Sato, Yoshiakira Kanai, Takashi Noma, Masami Kanai-Azuma, Shinichiro Taya, Toshiyasu Matsui, Maki Ishii, Hayato Kawakami, Masamichi Kurohmaru, Kozo Kaibuchi, Stephen A Wood, and Yoshihiro Hayashi

Usp9x, an X-linked deubiquitylating enzyme, is stage dependently expressed in the supporting cells (i.e. Sertoli cells and granulosa cells) and germ cells during mouse gametogenesis. Af-6, a cell junction protein, has been identified as a substrate of Usp9x, suggesting a possible association between Usp9x and Af-6 in spermatogenesis and oogenesis. In this study, we examined the expression pattern of Af-6 and Usp9x and their intracellular localization in testes and ovaries of mice treated with or without pregnant mare serum gonadotropin (PMSG), an FSH-like hormone. In both testes and ovaries, Af-6 expression was predominantly observed in supporting cells, as well as in steroidogenic cells, but not in any germ cells. In Sertoli cells, Af-6 was continuously expressed throughout postnatal and adult stages, where both Af-6 and Usp9x were enriched at the sites of Sertoli–Sertoli and Sertoli–spermatid junctions especially at stages XI–VI. In the granulosa cells, Af-6, as well as Usp9x, was highly expressed in primordial and primary follicles, but its expression rapidly decreased after the late-secondary follicle stage. Interestingly, in PMSG-treated mice, the expression levels of Af-6 and Usp9x were synchronously enhanced, slightly in Sertoli cells and strongly in granulosa cells of the late-secondary and Graafian follicles. Such closely correlated expression patterns between Af-6 and Usp9x clearly suggest that Af-6 may be deubiquitylated by Usp9x in both Sertoli and granulosa cells. It further suggests that the post-translational regulation of Af-6 by Usp9x may be one potential pathway to control the cell adhesion dynamics in mammalian gametogenesis.