MicroRNA-21 regulates the self-renewal of mouse spermatogonial stem cells.

Department of Animal Biology, School of Veterinary Medicine, and Penn Bioinformatics Core, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.81). 08/2011; 108(31):12740-5. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1109987108
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT MicroRNAs (miRs) play a key role in the control of gene expression in a wide array of tissue systems, where their functions include the regulation of self-renewal, cellular differentiation, proliferation, and apoptosis. However, the functional importance of individual miRs in controlling spermatogonial stem cell (SSC) homeostasis has not been investigated. Using high-throughput sequencing, we profiled the expression of miRs in the Thy1(+) testis cell population, which is highly enriched for SSCs, and the Thy1(-) cell population, composed primarily of testis somatic cells. In addition, we profiled the global expression of miRs in cultured germ cells, also enriched for SSCs. Our results demonstrate that miR-21, along with miR-34c, -182, -183, and -146a, are preferentially expressed in the Thy1(+) SSC-enriched population, compared with Thy1(-) somatic cells. Importantly, we demonstrate that transient inhibition of miR-21 in SSC-enriched germ cell cultures increased the number of germ cells undergoing apoptosis and significantly reduced the number of donor-derived colonies of spermatogenesis formed from transplanted treated cells in recipient mouse testes, indicating that miR-21 is important in maintaining the SSC population. Moreover, we show that in SSC-enriched germ cell cultures, miR-21 is regulated by the transcription factor ETV5, known to be critical for SSC self-renewal.

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