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Stage-specific expression of DDX4 and c-kit at different developmental stages of the porcine testis

Lee, Ran, Lee, Won-Young, Park, Hyun-Jung, Ha, Woo-Tae, Woo, Jae-Seok, Chung, Hak-Jae, Lee, Ji-Heon, Hong, Kwonho, Song, Hyuk
Animal reproduction science 2018 v.190 pp. 18-26
acrosin, acrosome, adults, basement membrane, biomarkers, genes, males, polypeptides, protein synthesis, puberty, spermatocytes, spermatogenesis, spermatogonia, stem cells, swine, synaptonemal complex, testes
Spermatogenesis begins with spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs), which are located in the basement membrane of the adult testes. Previous studies have described specific biomarkers for undifferentiated porcine spermatogonia or SSCs; however, these markers are not sufficient to understand spermatogenesis at different developmental stages. The objective of this study was characterize the expression of DEAD-Box polypeptide 4 (DDX4, also known as VASA) and tyrosine-protein kinase kit (c-kit), as potential markers of male germ cells in the porcine testis. In porcine testis tissue at prepubertal stages (5, 30, and 60 days), DDX4 and c-kit protein expression was detected in the most undifferentiated spermatogonia, which also express protein gene product 9.5 (PGP9.5). However, in porcine testis tissues from pubertal and postpubertal stages (90, 120, and 150 days), DDX4 and c-kit were not detected in PGP9.5-positive undifferentiated spermatogonia. The DDX4 expression pattern was similar to that of c-kit in the porcine testis. In adult porcine testes, DDX4-expressing cells were located on the lumenal side, compared to synaptonemal complex protein 3-positive primary spermatocytes, but DDX-4 was not co-expressed with acrosin, a known acrosome marker. In addition, DDX4 was detected in PGP9.5-expressing porcine SSCs in culture. Based on our results, we suggest that DDX4 and c-kit are putative markers of undifferentiated spermatogonia in the prepubertal porcine testis. While in the postpubertal porcine testis, they are markers of differentiated spermatocytes. These findings may facilitate future studies of porcine spermatogenesis.