The first prion-like protein doppel, officially designed as prion protein dublet, does not seem to be needed for prion disease progression, whereas its physiological function seems to be related to male fertility. Its expression is primarily detected in the male genital tract, and Prnd-inactivated male mice are sterile. We investigated the location of Doppel in the testis of various species of mammal to determine its physiological function. Doppel is expressed early during ontogenesis, and is found in both germ cells and Sertoli cells in mice, rats, boars, and humans. Doppel is permanently expressed in the Sertoli cells but at different levels according to species. Its expression in testicular germ cells was primarily detected in spermatids, with a transient presence in the acrosome. These data suggest that Doppel may play a physiological role in acrosome biogenesis and may be of use in studies of patients suffering from idiopathic infertility.
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