Spermatogenesis is dependent primarily on testosterone action on the Sertoli cells, but the molecular mechanisms have not been identified. Attempts to identify testosterone-regulated target genes in Sertoli cells have used microarray analysis of gene expression in mice lacking the androgen receptor (AR) in Sertoli cells (SCARKO) and wild-type mice, but the analyses have been complicated both by alteration of germ cell composition of the testis when pubertal or adult mice were used and by differences in Sertoli-cell gene expression from the expression in adults when prepubertal mice were used. To overcome these limitations and identify AR-regulated genes in adult Sertoli cells, we compared gene expression in adult jsd (Utp14bjsd/jsd, juvenile spermatogonial depletion) mouse testes and with that in SCARKO-jsd mouse testes, since their cellular compositions are essentially identical, consisting of only type A spermatogonia and somatic cells. Microarray analysis identified 157 genes as downregulated and 197 genes as upregulated in the SCARKO-jsd mice compared to jsd mice. Some of the AR-regulated genes identified in the previous studies, including Rhox5, Drd4, and Fhod3, were also AR regulated in the jsd testes, but others, such as proteases and components of junctional complexes, were not AR regulated in our model. Surprisingly, a set of germ cell–specific genes preferentially expressed in differentiated spermatogonia and meiotic cells, including Meig1, Sycp3, and Ddx4, were all upregulated about 2-fold in SCARKO-jsd testes. AR-regulated genes in Sertoli cells must therefore be involved in the regulation of spermatogonial differentiation, although there was no significant differentiation from spermatocytes in SCARKO-jsd mice. Further gene ontogeny analysis revealed sets of genes whose changes in expression may be involved in the dislocation of Sertoli cell nuclei in SCARKO-jsd testes.
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Vol. 83 • No. 5