Expression patterns of activin, inhibin and follistatin variants in the adult male mouse reproductive tract suggest important roles in the epididymis and vas deferens

Wendy Rachael Winnall, Hui Wu, Mai Sarraj, Peter A Rogers, David Morritz de Kretser, Jane Eleanor Girling, Mark Peter Hedger

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    Activin A and its inhibitors follistatin and inhibin play key roles in development and function of the male reproductive tract. Quantitative (q) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used to evaluate the expression of Inhba (the gene encoding activin A subunits), Inha and Inhbb (genes encoding the inhibin B subunits), as well as the genes for follistatin (Fst) and follistatin-like 3 (Fstl3) and the activin receptor subunits, in the male mouse reproductive tract. A qPCR assay that discriminated between the two follistatin variants of Fst288 (tissue-bound form) and Fst315 (circulating) was established. Activin A protein was measured by ELISA, whereas the inhibin a-subunit and total follistatin proteins were measured by radioimmunoassay (RIA). A screen of 22 tissues demonstrated tissue-specific regulation of the follistatin variants, with Fst288 highly expressed in the vas deferens and Fst315 most highly expressed in the skin. The expression of Fst288 and Fst315 and follistatin protein levels increased progressively from the testis through to the distal vas deferens. Inhba and the activin receptors were highly expressed in the epididymis, but activin A protein was elevated in both the epididymis and vas deferens. Inhibin a-subunit mRNA and protein and Inhbb expression were highest in the testis. These results indicate a role for activin A within the epididymis, but also that activin A bioactivity may be increasingly inhibited by follistatin distally along the male reproductive tract
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)570 - 580
    Number of pages11
    JournalReproduction, Fertility and Development
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

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