Deficiency in pleomorphic adenoma gene 1 (PLAG1) leads to reduced fertility in male mice, but the mechanism by which PLAG1 contributes to reproduction is unknown. To investigate the involvement of PLAG1 in testicular function, we determined (i) the spatial distribution of PLAG1 in the testis using X-gal staining; (ii) transcriptomic consequences of PLAG1 deficiency in knock-out and heterozygous mice compared to wild-type mice using RNA-seq; and (iii) morphological and functional consequences of PLAG1 deficiency by determining testicular histology, daily sperm production and sperm motility in knock-out and wild-type mice. PLAG1 was sparsely expressed in germ cells and in Sertoli cells. Genes known to be involved in spermatogenesis were downregulated in the testes of knock-out mice, as well as Hsd17b3, which encodes a key enzyme in androgen biosynthesis. In the absence of Plag1, a number of genes involved in immune processes and epididymis-specific genes were upregulated in the testes. Finally, loss of PLAG1 resulted in significantly lowered daily sperm production, in reduced sperm motility, and in several animals, in sloughing of the germinal epithelium. Our results demonstrate that the subfertility seen in male PLAG1-deficient mice is, at least in part, the result of significantly reduced sperm output and sperm motility.
- gene expression profiling