Generation of male germ cells from pluripotent cells could provide male gametes for treating male infertility and offer an ideal model for unveiling molecular mechanisms of spermatogenesis. However, the influence and exact molecular mechanisms, especially downstream effectors of BMP4 signaling pathways, in male germ cell differentiation of the induce pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, remain unknown. This study was designed to explore the role and mechanism of BMP4 signaling in the differentiation of mouse iPS cells to male germ cells. Embryoid body (EB) formation and recombinant BMP4 or Noggin were utilized to evaluate the effect of BMP4 on male germ cell generation from mouse iPS cells. Germ cell-specific genes and proteins as well as the downstream effectors of BMP4 signaling pathway were assessed using real-time PCR and Western blots. We found that BMP4 ligand and its multiple receptors, including BMPR1a, BMPR1b and BMPR2, were expressed in mouse iPS cells. Real-time PCR and Western blots revealed that BMP4 could upregulate the levels of genes and proteins for germ cell markers in iPS cells-derived EBs, whereas Noggin decreased their expression in these cells. Moreover, Smad1/5 phosphorylation, Gata4 transcription and the transcripts of Id1 and Id2 were enhanced by BMP4 but decreased when exposed to Noggin. Collectively, these results suggest that BMP4 promotes the generation of male germ cells from iPS cells via Smad1/5 pathway and the activation of Gata4, Id1 and Id2. This study thus offers novel insights into molecular mechanisms underlying male germ cell development.
Shi Yang, Qingqing Yuan, Minghui Niu, Jingmei Hou, Zijue Zhu, Min Sun, Zheng Li and Zuping He
Chencheng Yao, Yun Liu, Min Sun, Minghui Niu, Qingqing Yuan, Yanan Hai, Ying Guo, Zheng Chen, Jingmei Hou, Yang Liu and Zuping He
Spermatogenesis is composed of three distinctive phases, which include self-renewal of spermatogonia via mitosis, spermatocytes undergoing meiosis I/II and post-meiotic development of haploid spermatids via spermiogenesis. Spermatogenesis also involves condensation of chromatin in the spermatid head before transformation of spermatids to spermatozoa. Epigenetic regulation refers to changes of heritably cellular and physiological traits not caused by modifications in the DNA sequences of the chromatin such as mutations. Major advances have been made in the epigenetic regulation of spermatogenesis. In this review, we address the roles and mechanisms of epigenetic regulators, with a focus on the role of microRNAs and DNA methylation during mitosis, meiosis and spermiogenesis. We also highlight issues that deserve attention for further investigation on the epigenetic regulation of spermatogenesis. More importantly, a thorough understanding of the epigenetic regulation in spermatogenesis will provide insightful information into the etiology of some unexplained infertility, offering new approaches for the treatment of male infertility.
Guangdong Li, Xiuzhi Tian, Dongying Lv, Lu Zhang, Zhenzhen Zhang, Jing Wang, Minghui Yang, Jingli Tao, Teng Ma, Hao Wu, Pengyun Ji, Yingjie Wu, Zhengxing Lian, Wei Cui and Guoshi Liu
NLRP (NACHT, LRR and PYD domain-containing proteins) family plays pivotal roles in mammalian reproduction. Mutation of NLRP7 is often associated with human recurrent hydatidiform moles. Few studies regarding the functions of NLRP7 have been performed in other mammalian species rather than humans. In the current study, for the first time, the function of NLRP7 has been explored in ovine ovary. NLRP7 protein was mainly located in ovarian follicles and in in vitro pre-implantation embryos. To identify its origin, 763 bp partial CDS of NLRP7 deriving from sheep cumulus oocyte complexes (COCs) was cloned, it showed a great homology with Homo sapiens. The high levels of mRNA and protein of NLRP7 were steadily expressed in oocytes, parthenogenetic embryos or IVF embryos. NLRP7 knockdown by the combination of siRNA and shRNA jeopardized both the parthenogenetic and IVF embryo development. These results strongly suggest that NLRP7 plays an important role in ovine reproduction. The potential mechanisms of NLRP7 will be fully investigated in the future.