MSY2 is a member of the Y-box family of proteins solely expressed in male and female germ cells. In the male, MSY2 serves as a coactivator of transcription by binding to a consensus promoter element present in many germ cell-specific genes. In the nucleus, MSY2 marks specific mRNAs for cytoplasmic storage, stabilization, and suppression of translation. The inactivation of MSY2 by gene targeting leads to spermatogenic arrest and infertility. In testes of mice lacking MSY2, incomplete nuclear condensation is prominent in later-stage spermatids at the time of massive spermatid loss. Because MSY2 interacts with DNA and mRNAs, there are several distinct sites of action, which could be disrupted in mice that lack MSY2, resulting in the arrest of spermatogenesis. To define the molecular cause(s) of the spermatogenic arrest in mice lacking MSY2, transcriptional and posttranscriptional processes were assayed. Transcription, mRNA processing, and mRNA intracellular transport appear normal in the absence of MSY2. However, a redistribution of mRNAs from ribonucleoprotein particles to polysomes and marked decreases were detected for many meiotic and postmeiotic germ cell mRNAs, including the mRNAs encoding the transition proteins and protamines. This suggests that increased mRNA instability is a likely cause of the male infertility in Msy2-null mice.
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Vol. 76 • No. 1