[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Primordial germ cells (PGCs) are embryonic germ cell precursors. Specification of PGCs occurs under the influence of mesodermal induction signaling during in vivo gastrulation. Although bone morphogenetic proteins and Wnt signaling play pivotal roles in both mesodermal and PGC specification, the signal regulating PGC specification remains unknown. Coculture of mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) with OP9 feeder cells induces mesodermal differentiation in vitro. Using this mesodermal differentiation system, we demonstrated that PGC-like cells were efficiently induced from mouse ESCs by ERK signaling inhibition. Inhibition of ERK signaling by a MEK inhibitor upregulated germ cell marker genes but downregulated mesodermal genes. In addition, the PGC-like cells showed downregulation of DNA methylation and formed pluripotent stem cell colonies upon treatment with retinoic acid. These results show that inhibition of ERK signaling suppresses mesodermal differentiation but activates germline differentiation program in this mesodermal differentiation system. Our findings provide a new insight into the signaling networks regulating PGC specification. Stem Cells 2014
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: CRISPR/Cas mediated genome editing has been successfully demonstrated in mammalian cells and further applications for generating mutant mice were reported by injecting humanized Cas9 (hCas) mRNA and single guide RNA into fertilized eggs. Here we inject the circular plasmids expressing hCas9 and sgRNA into mouse zygotes and obtained mutant mice within a month. When we targeted the Cetn1 locus, 58.8% (10/17) of the pups carried the mutations and six of them were homozygously mutated. Co-injection of the plasmids targeting different loci resulted in the successful removal of the flanked region in two out of three mutant pups. The efficient mutagenesis was also observed at the Prm1 locus. Among the 46 offspring carrying CRISPR/Cas plasmid mediated mutations, only two of them carried the hCas9 transgene. The pronuclear injection of circular plasmid expressing hCas9/sgRNA complex is a rapid, simple, and reproducible method for targeted mutagenesis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: SPACA1 is a membrane protein that localizes in the equatorial segment of spermatozoa in mammals and is reported to function in sperm-egg fusion. We produced a Spaca1 gene-disrupted mouse line and found that the male mice were infertile. The cause of this sterility was abnormal shaping of the sperm head reminiscent of globozoospermia in humans. Disruption of Spaca1 led to the disappearance of the nuclear plate, a dense lining of the nuclear envelope facing the inner acrosomal membrane. This coincided with the failure of acrosomal expansion during spermiogenesis and resulted in the degeneration and disappearance of the acrosome in mature spermatozoa. Thus, these findings clarify part of the cascade leading to globozoospermia.
Development 10/2012; 139(19):3583-9. · 6.27 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genome-wide mutagenesis in mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) is a powerful tool, but the diploid nature of the mammalian genome hampers its application for recessive genetic screening. We have previously reported a method to induce homozygous mutant ESCs from heterozygous mutants by tetracycline-dependent transient disruption of the Bloom's syndrome gene. However, we could not purify homozygous mutants from a large population of heterozygous mutant cells, limiting the applications. Here we developed a strategy for rapid enrichment of homozygous mutant mouse ESCs and demonstrated its feasibility for cell-based phenotypic analysis. The method uses G418-plus-puromycin double selection to enrich for homozygotes and single-nucleotide polymorphism analysis for identification of homozygosity. We combined this simple approach with gene-trap mutagenesis to construct a homozygous mutant ESC bank with 138 mutant lines and demonstrate its use in phenotype-driven genetic screening.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Various conditions for differentiating embryonic stem (ES) cells or induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells into specific kinds of cell lines are under intensive investigation. However, the production of a functional organ with a three-dimensional structure from ES or iPS cells is difficult to achieve in vitro. In the present paper, we describe the establishment of a green fluorescent protein-expressing rat ES cell line and production of mouse↔rat ES chimera by injecting rat ES cells into mouse blastocysts. The rat ES cells contributed to various organs in the chimera, including germ cells. When we injected ES cells into blastocysts of nu/nu mice lacking a thymus, the resultant chimeras produced thymus derived from rat ES cells in their bodies. The chimeric animals may provide a method for the derivation of various organs from ES or iPS cells.
Genes to Cells 03/2011; 16(4):397-405. · 2.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Polyamines are known to play important roles in the proliferation and differentiation of many types of cells. Although considerable amounts of polyamines are synthesized and stored in the testes, their roles remain unknown. Ornithine decarboxylase antizymes (OAZs) control the intracellular concentration of polyamines in a feedback manner. OAZ1 and OAZ2 are expressed ubiquitously, whereas OAZ-t/OAZ3 is expressed specifically in germline cells during spermiogenesis. OAZ-t reportedly binds to ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) and inactivates ODC activity. In a prior study, polyamines were capable of inducing a frameshift at the frameshift sequence of OAZ-t mRNA, resulting in the translation of OAZ-t. To investigate the physiological role of OAZ-t, we generated OAZ-t-disrupted mutant mice. Homozygous OAZ-t mutant males were infertile, although the polyamine concentrations of epididymides and testes were normal in these mice, and females were fertile. Sperm were successfully recovered from the epididymides of the mutant mice, but the heads and tails of the sperm cells were easily separated in culture medium during incubation. Results indicated that OAZ-t is essential for the formation of a rigid junction between the head and tail during spermatogenesis. The detached tails and heads were alive, and most of the headless tails showed straight forward movement. Although the tailless sperm failed to acrosome-react, the heads were capable of fertilizing eggs via intracytoplasmic sperm injection. OAZ-t likely plays a key role in haploid germ cell differentiation via the local concentration of polyamines.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Transgenic and knockout studies have advanced our understanding of the genetic control of embryonic development over the past decades. However, interpretation of the phenotype of mutant mice is potentially complicated, since the commonly used knockout approach modifies both the fetal and placental genome. To circumvent this problem, we previously developed a placenta-specific gene manipulation system by lentiviral vector transduction of embryos at the blastocyst stage. In the present study, by combination with the Cre/LoxP system, we successfully demonstrate placenta-specific gene activation and inactivation in EGFP reporter mice and Ets2 floxed mice, respectively. Transient expression using integrase-defective lentiviral (IDLV) vectors diminished the toxic effect of Cre expression and solved the dilemma of mosaic recombination with lower concentrations and toxic effects with higher concentrations of Cre recombinase. We also show that placenta-specific Ets2 disruption causes embryonic lethality and reconfirmed the critical role of Ets2 during placentation. This technology facilitates both gain and loss of gene function analyses in placental development during pregnancy. Since IDLV vectors can efficiently transduce a variety of cell types similarly to wild-type vectors, our IDLV-Cre strategy is potentially useful for a wide range of applications.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A large cis-regulatory landscape is a common feature of vertebrate genomes, particularly at key developmental gene loci with finely tuned expression patterns. Existing genetic tools for surveying large genomic regions of interest spanning over hundreds of kilobases are limited. Here we propose a chromosomal engineering strategy exploiting the local hopping trait of the Sleeping Beauty transposon in the mouse genome. We generated embryonic stem cells with a targeted integration of the transposon vector, carrying an enhancer-detecting lacZ reporter and loxP cassette, into the developmentally critical Pax1 gene locus, followed by efficient local transpositions, nested deletion formation and derivation of embryos by tetraploid complementation. Comparative reporter expression analysis among different insertion/deletion embryos substantially facilitated long-range cis-regulatory element mapping in the genomic neighborhood and demonstrated the potential of the transposon-based approach as a versatile tool for exploration of defined genomic intervals of functional or clinical relevance, such as disease-associated microdeletions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sperm from four different gene-disrupted mouse lines (calmegin [Clgn], Adam1a, Adam2, and Ace) are known to have defective zona-binding ability. Moreover, it is also reported that the sperm from all of these mouse lines exhibit another common phenotype of impaired migration into oviduct despite the large number of sperm found in uterus after coitus. On the other hand, the sperm from the Adam3-disrupted mouse line was reported to have defects in binding ability to zona, but were able to move into the oviduct. In order to clarify the difference, we investigated the migration of ADAM3-null sperm into oviduct precisely by visualizing the sperm by using acrosin-green fluorescent protein as a tag. As a result, in contrast to previous observations, it was demonstrated that the Adam3-disrupted sperm were unable to migrate into the oviduct after coitus. It was ultimately shown that, in five out of five different gene-disrupted mouse lines, the phenotype of impaired sperm binding to zona pellucida was accompanied by the loss of ability of sperm to migrate into the oviduct. This indicates a close relationship between the two phenomena, and also that sperm migration into the oviduct is a crucial step for fertilization.
Biology of Reproduction 05/2009; 81(1):142-6. · 3.45 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Meichroacidin (MCA) is a highly hydrophilic protein that contains the membrane occupation and recognition nexus motif. MCA is expressed during the stages of spermatogenesis from pachytene spermatocytes to mature sperm development and is localized in the male meiotic metaphase chromosome and sperm flagellum. MCA sequences are highly conserved in Ciona intestinalis, Cyprinus carpio, and mammals. To investigate the physiological role of MCA, we generated MCA-disrupted mutant mice; homozygous MCA mutant males were infertile, but females were not. Sperm was rarely observed in the caput epididymidis of MCA mutant males. However, little to no difference was seen in testis mass between wild-type and mutant mice. During sperm morphogenesis, elongated spermatids had retarded flagellum formation and might increase phagocytosis by Sertoli cells. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that MCA interacts with proteins located on the outer dense fibers of the flagellum. The testicular sperm of MCA mutant mice was capable of fertilizing eggs successfully via intracytoplasmic sperm injection and generated healthy progeny. Our results suggest that MCA is essential for sperm flagellum formation and the production of functional sperm.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 08/2008; 283(27):19039-48. · 4.60 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Placental dysfunction underlies many complications during pregnancy, and better understanding of gene function during placentation could have considerable clinical relevance. However, the lack of a facile method for placenta-specific gene manipulation has hampered investigation of placental organogenesis and the treatment of placental dysfunction. We showed previously that transduction of fertilized mouse eggs with lentiviral vectors leads to transgene expression in both the fetus and the placenta. Here we report placenta-specific gene incorporation by lentiviral transduction of mouse blastocysts after removal of the zona pellucida. All of the placentas analyzed, but none of the fetuses, were transgenic. Application of this method substantially rescued mice deficient in Ets2, Mapk14 (also known as p38alpha) and Mapk1 (also known as Erk2) from embryonic lethality caused by placental defects. Ectopic expression of Mapk11 also complemented Mapk14 deficiency during placentation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Representing the 60 trillion cells that build a human body, a sperm and an egg meet, recognize each other, and fuse to form a new generation of life. The factors involved in this important membrane fusion event, fertilization, have been sought for a long time. Recently, CD9 on the egg membrane was found to be essential for fusion, but sperm-related fusion factors remain unknown. Here, by using a fusion-inhibiting monoclonal antibody and gene cloning, we identify a mouse sperm fusion related antigen and show that the antigen is a novel immunoglobulin superfamily protein. We have termed the gene Izumo and produced a gene-disrupted mouse line. Izumo -/- mice were healthy but males were sterile. They produced normal-looking sperm that bound to and penetrated the zona pellucida but were incapable of fusing with eggs. Human sperm also contain Izumo and addition of the antibody against human Izumo left the sperm unable to fuse with zona-free hamster eggs.
American Journal Of Reproductive Immunology 05/2006; 55(6):391 - 391. · 3.32 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mammalian male preimplantation embryos develop more quickly than females . Using enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP)-tagged X chromosomes to identify the sex of the embryos, we compared gene expression patterns between male and female mouse blastocysts by DNA microarray. We detected nearly 600 genes with statistically significant sex-linked expression; most differed by 2-fold or less. Of 11 genes showing greater than 2.5-fold differences, four were expressed exclusively or nearly exclusively sex dependently. Two genes (Dby and Eif2s3y) were mapped to the Y chromosome and were expressed in male blastocysts. The remaining two (Rhox5/Pem and Xist) were mapped to the X chromosome and were predominantly expressed in female blastocysts. Moreover, Rhox5/Pem was expressed predominantly from the paternally inherited X chromosome, indicating sex differences in early epigenetic gene regulation.
Current Biology 02/2006; 16(2):166-72. · 9.92 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We cloned a testis-specific cDNA from mice that encodes a histone H1-like, haploid germ cell-specific nuclear protein designated HANP1/H1T2. The HANP1/H1T2 protein was specifically localized to the nuclei of murine spermatids during differentiation steps 5 to 13 but not to the nuclei of mature sperm. HANP1/H1T2 contains an arginine-serine-rich domain and an ATP/GTP binding site, and it binds to DNA, ATP, and protamine. To investigate the physiological role of HANP1/H1T2, we generated Hanp1/H1T2-disrupted mutant mice. Homozygous Hanp1/H1T2 mutant males were infertile, but females were fertile. Although a substantial number of sperm were recovered from the epididymides, their shape and function were abnormal. During sperm morphogenesis, the formation of nuclei was disturbed and protamine-1 and -2 were only weakly detectable in the nuclei. The chromatin packaging was aberrant, as demonstrated by electron microscopy and biochemical analysis. The mutant sperm exhibited deficient motility and were not competent to fertilize eggs under in vitro fertilization conditions; however, they were capable of fertilizing eggs via intracytoplasmic sperm injection that resulted in the birth of healthy progeny. Thus, we found that HANP1/H1T2 is essential for nuclear formation in functional spermatozoa and is specifically involved in the replacement of histones with protamines during spermiogenesis. At the time of submission of the manuscript, we found an independent publication by Martianov et al. (I. Martianov, S. Brancorsini, R. Catena, A. Gansmuller, N. Kotaja, M. Parvinen, P. Sassone-Corsi, and I. Davidson, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 102:2808-2813, 2005) that reported similar results.
Molecular and Cellular Biology 09/2005; 25(16):7107-19. · 5.04 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We produced XX<-->XY chimeras by using embryos whose X chromosomes were tagged with EGFP (X*), making the fluorescent green female (XX*) germ cells easily distinguishable from their nonfluorescent male (XY) counterparts. Taking advantage of tagging with EGFP, the XX* "prospermatogonia" were isolated from the testes, and the status of their genomic imprinting was examined. It was shown that these XX cells underwent a paternal imprinting, despite their chromosomal constitution. As previously indicated in sex-reversal XXsxr testes, we also found a few green XX* germ cells developed as "eggs" within the seminiferous tubules of XX*<-->XY chimeric testes. These cells were indistinguishable from XX* prospermatogonia at birth but resumed oogenesis in a testicular environment. The biological nature of the "testicular eggs" was examined by recovering the eggs from chimeric testes. The testicular eggs not only formed an egg-specific structure, the zona pellucida, but also were able to fuse with sperm. The collected testicular eggs were indicated to undergo maternal imprinting, despite the testicular environment. The genomic imprinting did not always follow the environmental conditions of where the germ cells resided; rather, it was defined by the sex that was chosen by the germ cells at early embryonic stage.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 04/2005; 102(11):4039-44. · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Representing the 60 trillion cells that build a human body, a sperm and an egg meet, recognize each other, and fuse to form a new generation of life. The factors involved in this important membrane fusion event, fertilization, have been sought for a long time. Recently, CD9 on the egg membrane was found to be essential for fusion, but sperm-related fusion factors remain unknown. Here, by using a fusion-inhibiting monoclonal antibody and gene cloning, we identify a mouse sperm fusion-related antigen and show that the antigen is a novel immunoglobulin superfamily protein. We have termed the gene Izumo and produced a gene-disrupted mouse line. Izumo-/- mice were healthy but males were sterile. They produced normal-looking sperm that bound to and penetrated the zona pellucida but were incapable of fusing with eggs. Human sperm also contain Izumo and addition of the antibody against human Izumo left the sperm unable to fuse with zona-free hamster eggs.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Loss of calmegin, a testis-specific putative chaperone protein of the endoplasmic reticulum, leads to male sterility because the sperm show defects in migration into the oviduct and do not bind to the zona pellucida. To clarify the mechanism of defective migration, XY <--> XY chimeras were produced by aggregating wild-type embryos with embryos of transgenic mice lacking functional calmegin genes and expressing enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) in their acrosomes. Chimeric ejaculates contained wild-type, nonfluorescent sperm as well as sperm with EGFP-tagged acrosomes and the defective calmegin gene. Transgenic, wild-type, and chimeric males were mated to wild-type females; however, only wild-type sperm were ever found within the oviducts. Calmegin-knockout sperm, even when they were combined in chimeric ejaculates with wild-type sperm, remained outside of the uterotubal junction. These findings indicate that the presence of wild-type sperm cannot compensate for the inability of calmegin-knockout sperm to enter the oviduct and that successful ascent into the oviduct depends on the capabilities of individual sperm.
Biology of Reproduction 10/2004; 71(3):959-65. · 3.45 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Production of transgenic animals is an important technique for studying various biological processes. However, whether the integration of a particular transgene occurs randomly in the mouse genome has not been determined. Analysis by fluorescence in situ hybridization of the integration sites of the 142 EGFP (a mutant of green fluorescent protein) transgenic lines that we produced showed that the transgenes had become incorporated into every mouse chromosome. A single integration site was observed in 82.4% of the lines. The concomitant integrations of transgene into two different loci were observed in 15 cases (10.6%). In 3 cases, the transgenic founder mice showed chimerism in integration sites (2.1%). Chromosomal translocation was observed in 7 cases (4.9%). Moreover, when we statistically analyzed the transgene integration sites of these mouse lines, they were shown to distribute unevenly throughout the genome. This is the first report to analyze the transgene integration sites by producing more than 100 transgenic mouse lines.