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Bo Zheng, Jun Yu, Yueshuai Guo, Tingting Gao, Cong Shen, Xi Zhang, Hong Li and Xiaoyan Huang

The cellular nucleic acid-binding protein (CNBP), also known as zinc finger protein 9, is a highly conserved zinc finger protein that is strikingly conserved among vertebrates. Data collected from lower vertebrates showed that CNBP is expressed at high levels and distributed in the testes during spermatogenesis. However, the location and function of CNBP in mammalian testes are not well known. Here, by neonatal mouse testis culture and spermatogonial stem cells (SSC) culture methods, we studied the effect of CNBP knockdown on neonatal testicular development. Our results revealed that CNBP was mainly located in the early germ cells and Sertoli cells. Knockdown of CNBP using morpholino in neonatal testis culture caused disruption of seminiferous tubules, mislocation of Sertoli cells and loss of germ cells, which were associated with the aberrant Wnt/β-catenin pathway activation. However, knockdown of CNBP in SSC culture did not affect the survival of germ cells. In conclusion, our study suggests that CNBP could maintain testicular development by inhibiting the Wnt/β-catenin pathway, particularly by influencing Sertoli cells.

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Zhen Teng, Chao Wang, Yijing Wang, Kun Huang, Xi Xiang, Wanbao Niu, Lizhao Feng, Lihua Zhao, Hao Yan and Hua Zhang

The reserve of primordial follicles determines the reproductive ability of the female mammal over its reproductive life. The primordial follicle is composed of two types of cells: oocytes and surrounding pre-granulosa cells. However, the underlying mechanism regulating primordial follicle assembly is largely undefined. In this study, we found that gap junction communication (GJC) established between the ovarian cells in the perinatal mouse ovary may be involved in the process. First, gap junction structures between the oocyte and surrounding pre-granulosa cells appear at about 19.0 dpc (days post coitum). As many as 12 gap junction-related genes are upregulated at birth, implying that a complex communication may exist between ovarian cells, because specifically silencing the genes of individual gap junction proteins, such as Gja 1, Gja4 or both, has no influence on primordial follicle assembly. On the other hand, non-specific blockers of GJC, such as carbenoxolone (CBX) and 18α-glycyrrhetinic acid (AGA), significantly inhibit mouse primordial follicle assembly. We proved that the temporal window for establishment of GJC in the fetal ovary is from 19.5 dpc to 1 dpp (days postpartum). In addition, the expression of ovarian somatic cell (OSC)-specific genes, such as Notch2, Foxl2 and Irx3, was negatively affected by GJC blockers, whereas oocyte-related genes, such as Ybx2, Nobox and Sohlh1, were hardly affected, implying that the establishment of GJC during this period may be more important to OSCs than to oocytes. In summary, our results indicated that GJC involves in the mouse primordial follicle assembly process at a specific temporal window that needs Notch signaling cross-talking.

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Lan Xiao, Qiong Zhang, Xi Huang, Aihua He, Shi Xie and Yanping Li

Uterine peristalsis plays a vital role in fertility and female reproductive health. Although uterine peristalsis is thought to be correlated with some hormones and uterine pathologies, the physiological mechanisms underlying uterine peristalsis remain not quite clear. This study aimed to identify changes in miRNA in the endometrium of patients with abnormally high-frequency (hyper-) and low-frequency (hypo-) peristalsis to clarify whether miRNAs regulate uterine peristalsis. We used a miRNA microarray and RT-qPCR to identify changes in miRNA in endometrial tissue, a collagen gel contraction assay on co-cultured human endometrial stromal cells (ESCs) to analyze how the altered regulation of miRNAs influences uterine smooth muscle (USM) contraction, Western blots and other assays to elucidate the potential mechanisms involved. We found that among several differentially regulated miRNAs, miR-29c-3p was overexpressed in endometrial samples from patients with hypoperistalsis; oxytocin receptor (OXTR) expression was low in endometrial samples from patients with hypoperistalsis. Bioinformatic analysis and luciferase assays indicated that OXTR is a target of miR-29c-3p, which attenuates its expression. Additionally, downregulation of miR-29c-3p in ESC cultures increased the expression of aldo-keto reductase family 1, member C3 (AKR1C3) and increased the release of prostaglandin F2 alpha (PGF2α). Co-cultured ESCs overexpressing miR-29c-3p reduced USM cell contractions; the opposite tendency was found when ESCs were transfected with a miR-29c-3p inhibitor. To conclude, miR-29c-3p in endometrial cells regulates uterine contractility by attenuating the expression of OXTR and reducing PGF2α release.