The purpose of this study was to identify factors that contribute to bovine testis development and donor age-dependent differences in the abilities of bovine ectopic testis tissue grafts to produce elongated spermatids. We used real-time RT-PCR and microarrays to evaluate and to identify the expression of genes that are involved in Sertoli and germ cell development in bovine testis tissues. Testis tissues were obtained from 2-, 4-, and 8-wk-old bull calves and were grafted immediately. Grafted bovine testis tissue was removed from mice, RNA was isolated from the grafts, and real-time RT-PCR was used to evaluate gene expression during the grafting period. In addition, the gene expression in the donor tissue was analyzed using Affymetrix Bovine GeneChips, to identify differentially expressed genes. Examination of the testis tissue grafts indicated that Sertoli cell-specific gene expression was lower in 8-wk donor tissue grafts compared to the donors of other ages. Furthermore, the expression of KIT, which is a germ cell-specific gene, was low in testis tissue grafts. Microarray analysis of the donor tissue showed that several genes that are involved in angiogenesis or tissue growth were differentially expressed in 2-, 4-, and 8-wk-old bovine testes. The levels of expression of the genes for angiogenin, transgelin, thrombomodulin, early growth response 1, insulin-like growth factor 2, and insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 3 were lower in testis tissues from older animals. Using these data, it will be possible in the future to manipulate the testis xenograft microenvironment so as to improve the efficiency of sperm production within the graft.
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Vol. 76 • No. 6