Paternal exposure to environmental 17-alpha-ethinylestradiol concentrations modifies testicular transcription, affecting the sperm transcript content and the offspring performance in zebrafish.
Since their discovery ~three decades ago, sperm-borne RNAs, both large/small and coding/noncoding, have been reported in multiple organisms, and some have been implicated in spermatogenesis, early development, and epigenetic inheritance. Despite these advances, isolation, quantification and annotation of sperm-borne RNAs remain nontrivial. The yields and subspecies of sperm-borne RNAs isolated from sperm can vary drastically depending on the methods used, and no cross-species analyses of sperm RNA contents have ever been conducted using a standardized sperm RNA isolation protocol. To address these issues, we developed a simple RNA isolation method that is applicable to sperm of various species, thus allowing for reliable interspecies comparisons. Based on RNA-Seq analyses, we established SpermBase (www.spermbase.org), a database dedicated to sperm-borne RNA profiling of multiple species. Currently, SpermBase contains large and small RNA expression data for mouse, rat, rabbit and human total sperm and sperm heads. By analyzing large and small RNAs for conserved features, we found that many sperm-borne RNA species were conserved across all four species analyzed, and among the conserved small RNAs, sperm-borne tsRNAs and miRNAs can target a large number of genes known to be critical for early development.