Roles of Stra8 and Tcerg1l in retinoic acid induced spermatogonial differentiation in mouse

Sinha, Whelan, Tobias, Avarbock, Stefanovski, Brinster.

Biology of Reproduction, Volume 105, Issue 2, August 2021, Pages 503–518,

Published: 06 May 2021


Retinoic acid (RA) induces spermatogonial differentiation, but the mechanism by which it operates remains largely unknown. We developed a germ cell culture assay system to study genes involved in spermatogonial differentiation triggered by RA. Stimulated by RA 8 (Stra8), a RA-inducible gene, is indispensable for meiosis initiation, and its deletion results in a complete block of spermatogenesis at the pre-leptotene/zygotene stage. To interrogate the role of Stra8 in RA mediated differentiation of spermatogonia, we derived germ cell cultures from the neonatal testis of both wild type and Stra8 knock-out mice. We provide the first evidence that Stra8 plays a crucial role in modulating the responsiveness of undifferentiated spermatogonia to RA and facilitates transition to a differentiated state. Stra8-mediated differentiation is achieved through the downregulation of a large portfolio of genes and pathways, most notably including genes involved in the spermatogonial stem cell self-renewal process. We also report here for the first time the role of transcription elongation regulator-1 like (Tcerg1l) as a downstream effector of RA-induced spermatogonial differentiation.

This research was funded in part by the Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation.