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Tiantian Liu, Pengfei Zhang, Tianjiao Li, Xiaoxu Chen, Zhenshuo Zhu, Yinghua Lyu, Xueliang Li, Xiue Tian, and Wenxian Zeng

Histone methyltransferase SETDB1 suppresses gene expression and modulates heterochromatin formation through H3K9me2/3. Previous studies have revealed that SETDB1 catalyzes lysine 9 of histone H3 tri-methylation and plays essential roles in maintaining the survival of embryonic stem cells and spermatogonial stem cells in mice. However, the function of SETDB1 in porcine male germ cells remains unclear. The aim of the present study was to reveal the expression profile and function of SETDB1 in porcine germ cells. SETDB1 expression gradually increased during testis development. SETDB1 was strongly localized in gonocytes. Knockdown of SETDB1 gene expression led to gonocyte apoptosis and a decrease in H3K27me3, but no significant change in H3K9me3. These observations suggested that SETDB1 is a novel epigenetic regulator of porcine male germ cells, and contributes to the maintenance of gonocyte survival in pigs, probably due to the regulation of H3K27me3 rather than H3K9me3. These findings will provide a theoretical basis for the future study of epigenetic regulation of spermatogenesis.

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Xiaoxu Chen, Qian Sun, Yi Zheng, Zidong Liu, Xiangqian Meng, Wenxian Zeng, and Hongzhao Lu

Infertility caused by male factors is routinely diagnosed by assessing traditional semen parameters. Growing evidence has indicated that the tsRNAs carried in sperm act as epigenetic factors and potential biomarkers for the assessment of sperm quality. We recently demonstrated that tRNAGln-TTG derived small RNAs played notable roles in the first cleavage of a porcine embryo. However, the function of human sperm tRNAGln-TTG derived small RNAs as a diagnostic biomarker and its role in early embryo development remains unclear. In this study, we found that human sperm tRNAGln-TTG derived small RNAs were highly associated with sperm quality. By microinjecting the antisense sequence into human tripronuclear (3PN) zygotes followed by single-cell RNA-sequencing, we found that human sperm tRNAGln-TTG derived small RNAs participated in the development of a human embryo. Furthermore, Gln-TTGs might influence embryonic genome activation by modulating noncoding RNA processing. These findings demonstrated that human sperm tRNAGln-TTG derived small RNAs could be potential diagnostic biomarkers and could be used as a clinical target for male infertility.

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Xiaoxu Chen, Dongxue Che, Pengfei Zhang, Xueliang Li, Qingqing Yuan, Tiantian Liu, Jiayin Guo, Tongying Feng, Ligang Wu, Minzhi Liao, Zuping He, and Wenxian Zeng

Spermatogenesis includes mitosis of spermatogonia, meiosis of pachytene spermatocytes and spermiogenesis of round spermatids. MiRNAs as a ~22 nt small noncoding RNA are involved in regulating spermatogenesis at post-transcriptional level. However, the dynamic miRNAs expression in the developmental porcine male germ cells remains largely undefined. In this study, we purified porcine spermatogonia, pachytene spermatocytes and round spermatids using a STA-PUT apparatus. A small RNA deep sequencing and analysis were conducted to establish a miRNAs profiling in these male germ cells. We found that 19 miRNAs were differentially expressed between spermatogonia and pachytene spermatocytes, and 74 miRNAs differentially expressed between pachytene spermatocytes and round spermatids. Furthermore, 91 miRNAs were upregulated, while 108 miRNAs were downregulated in spermatozoa. We demonstrated that ssc-miR-10a-5p, ssc-miR-125b, ssc-let-7f and ssc-miR-186 were highly expressed in spermatogonia, pachytene spermatocytes, round spermatids and spermatozoa respectively. The findings could provide novel insights into roles of miRNAs in regulation of porcine spermatogenesis.