Increasing evidence indicates that microRNAs (miRNAs) may be critical players in spermatogenesis. The miRNA expression profiles of THY1 -enriched undifferentiated spermatogonia were characterized, and members of Mir-17-92 (Mirc1) and its paralog Mir-106b-25 (Mirc3) clusters are significantly downregulated during retinoic acid-induced spermatogonial differentiation, both in vitro and in vivo. The repression of microRNA clusters Mir-17-92 (Mirc1) and Mir-106b-25 (Mirc3) by retinoic acid in turn potentially upregulates the expression of Bim, Kit, Socs3, and Stat3. The male germ cell-specific Mir-17-92 (Mirc1) knockout mice exhibit small testes, a lower number of epididymal sperm, and mild defect in spermatogenesis. Absence of Mir-17-92 (Mirc1) in male germ cells dramatically increases expression of Mir-106b-25 (Mirc3) cluster miRNAs in the germ cells. These results suggest that Mir-17-92 (Mirc1) cluster and Mir-106b-25 (Mirc3) cluster miRNAs possibly functionally cooperate in regulating spermatogonial development.
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Vol. 86 • No. 3