Proteomic changes in rat spermatogenesis in response to in vivo androgen manipulation; impact on meiotic cells

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The production of mature sperm is reliant on androgen action within the testis, and it is well established that androgens act on receptors within the somatic Sertoli cells to stimulate male germ cell development. Mice lacking Sertoli cell androgen receptors (AR) show late meiotic germ cell arrest, suggesting Sertoli cells transduce the androgenic stimulus co-ordinating this essential step in spermatogenesis. This study aimed to identify germ cell proteins responsive to changes in testicular androgen levels and thereby elucidate mechanisms by which androgens regulate meiosis. Testicular androgen levels were suppressed for 9 weeks using testosterone and estradiol-filled silastic implants, followed by a short period of either further androgen suppression (via an AR antagonist) or the restoration of intratesticular testosterone levels. Comparative proteomics were performed on protein extracts from enriched meiotic cell preparations from adult rats undergoing androgen deprivation and replacement in vivo. Loss of androgenic stimulus caused changes in proteins with known roles in meiosis (including Nasp and Hsp70-2), apoptosis (including Diablo), cell signalling (including 14-3-3 isoforms), oxidative stress, DNA repair, and RNA processing. Immunostaining for oxidised DNA adducts confirmed spermatocytes undergo oxidative stress-induced DNA damage during androgen suppression. An increase in PCNA and an associated ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme (Ubc13) suggested a role for PCNA-mediated regulation of DNA repair pathways in spermatocytes. Changes in cytoplasmic SUMO1 localisation in spermatocytes were paralleled by changes in the levels of free SUMO1 and of a subunit of its activating complex, suggesting sumoylation in spermatocytes is modified by androgen action on Sertoli cells. We conclude that Sertoli cells, in response to androgens, modulate protein translation and post-translational events in spermatocytes that impact on their metabolism, survival, and completion of meiosis.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere41718
Number of pages19
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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