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Shinnosuke Suzuki, Yusuke Nozawa, Satoshi Tsukamoto, Takehito Kaneko, Hiroshi Imai, and Naojiro Minami

SET and MYND domain-containing protein 3 (Smyd3) is a histone H3 lysine 4 (H3K4) di- and tri-methyltransferase that forms a transcriptional complex with RNA polymerase II and activates the transcription of oncogenes and cell cycle genes in human cancer cells. However, the study of Smyd3 in mammalian early embryonic development has not yet been addressed. In the present study, we investigated the expression pattern of Smyd3 in mouse preimplantation embryos and the effects of RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated Smyd3 repression on the development of mouse embryos. We showed that Smyd3 mRNA levels increased after the two-cell stage, peaked at the four-cell stage, and gradually decreased thereafter. Moreover, in two-cell to eight-cell embryos, SMYD3 staining was more intense in the nuclei than it was in the cytoplasm. In Smyd3-knockdown embryos, the percentage of inner cell mass (ICM)-derived colony formation and trophectoderm (TE)-derived cell attachment were significantly decreased, which resulted in a reduction in the number of viable offspring. Furthermore, the expression of Oct4 and Cdx2 during mid-preimplantation gene activation was significantly decreased in Smyd3-knockdown embryos. In addition, the transcription levels of ICM and epiblast markers, such as Oct4, Nanog, and Sox2, the transcription levels of primitive endoderm markers, such as Gata6, and the transcription levels of TE markers, such as Cdx2 and Eomes, were significantly decreased in Smyd3-knockdown blastocysts. These findings indicate that SMYD3 plays an important role in early embryonic lineage commitment and peri-implantation development through the activation of lineage-specific genes.

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Shinnosuke Suzuki, John R McCarrey, and Brian P Hermann

Initiation of spermatogonial differentiation in the mouse testis begins with the response to retinoic acid (RA) characterized by activation of KIT and STRA8 expression. In the adult, spermatogonial differentiation is spatiotemporally coordinated by a pulse of RA every 8.6 days that is localized to stages VII–VIII of the seminiferous epithelial cycle. Dogmatically, progenitor spermatogonia that express retinoic acid receptor gamma (RARG) at these stages will differentiate in response to RA, but this has yet to be tested functionally. Previous single-cell RNA-seq data identified phenotypically and functionally distinct subsets of spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) and progenitor spermatogonia, where late progenitor spermatogonia were defined by expression of RARG and Dppa3. Here, we found late progenitor spermatogonia (RARGhigh KIT−) were further divisible into two subpopulations based on Dppa3 reporter expression (Dppa3-ECFP or Dppa3-EGFP) and were observed across all stages of the seminiferous epithelial cycle. However, nearly all Dppa3+ spermatogonia were differentiating (KIT+) late in the seminiferous epithelial cycle (stages X–XII), while Dppa3− late progenitors remained abundant, suggesting that Dppa3+ and Dppa3− late progenitors differentially responded to RA. Following acute RA treatment (2–4 h), significantly more Dppa3+ late progenitors induced KIT, including at the midpoint of the cycle (stages VI–IX), than Dppa3− late progenitors. Subsequently, single-cell analyses indicated a subset of Dppa3+ late progenitors expressed higher levels of Rxra, which we confirmed by RXRA whole-mount immunostaining. Together, these results indicate RARG alone is insufficient to initiate a spermatogonial response to RA in the adult mouse testis and suggest differential RXRA expression may discriminate responding cells.