Selective Ablation of the Androgen Receptor in Mouse Sertoli Cells Affects Sertoli Cell Maturation, Barrier Formation and Cytoskeletal Development
Evidence from several models of hormone depletion and/or replacement and from knockout animals points to a key role of androgens in the control of spermatogenesis. In testes of mice with a Sertoli cell-selective ablation of the androgen receptor (SCARKO), transcriptional profiling, using microarray technology, revealed that, already on postnatal day 10,692 genes are differentially expressed compared with testes of control mice. Further evaluation of a subset of these genes by quantitative RT-PCR suggested that differences in expression may already be evident on day 8 or earlier. As the androgen receptor in mouse Sertoli cells becomes immunologically detectable around day 5, we tried to identify the earliest responses to androgens by a new transcriptional profiling study on testes from 6-day-old SCARKO and control mice. No obvious and novel early androgen response genes, potentially acting as mediators of subsequent indirect androgen actions, could be identified. However, several genes differentially expressed on day 10 already displayed a response to androgen receptor ablation on day 6. Quantitative RT-PCR studies for 12 of these genes on 10 paired SCARKO and control testes from 4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, 20- and 50-day-old mice revealed significant differences in expression level from day 4 onwards for three genes (Eppin, PCI, Cldn11) and from day 6 onwards for one more gene (Rhox5). For at least two of these genes (Rhox5 and Eppin), there is evidence for direct regulation via the androgen receptor. For three additional genes (Gpd1, Tubb3 and Tpd52l1) significantly lower expression in the SCARKO was noted from day 8 onwards. For all the studied genes, an impressive increase in transcript levels was observed between day 4-50 and differential expression was maintained in adulthood. It is concluded that the SCARKO model indicates incipient androgen action in mouse Sertoli cells from day 4 onwards.