Journal Article

Irradiation selectively inhibits expression from the androgen-dependent Pem homeobox gene promoter in Sertoli cells

How radiation blocks spermatogenesis in certain strains of rats, such as LBNF_1, is not known. Because the block depends on androgen, we propose that androgen affects Sertoli cell function in irradiated LBNF_1 rats, resulting in the failure of spermatogonial differentiation. To begin to identify genes that may participate in this irradiation-induced blockade of spermatogenesis, we investigated the expression of several Sertoli genes in response to irradiation. The expression of the Pem homeobox gene from its androgen-dependent Sertoli-specific proximal promoter (Pp) was dramatically reduced more than 100-foldin response to irradiation. In contrast, most other genes andgene products reported to be localized to the Sertoli cell, including FSH receptor (FSHR), androgen receptor (AR), SGP1, and the transcription factor CREB, did not exhibit significant changes in expression, whereas transferrin messenger RNA (mRNA) expression dramatically increased in response to irradiation. Irradiation also decreased Pp-driven Pem mRNA levels in mouse testes (approximately 10-fold), although higher doses of irradiation than in rats were required to inhibit Pem gene expression in testes of mice, consistent with their greater radioresistance. The decrease in Pem gene expression in mouse testis was also selective, as the expression of CREB, GATA-1, and SGP1 were little affected by irradiation. We conclude that the dramatic irradiation-triggered reduction of Pem expression in Sertoli cells is a conserved response that may be a marker for functional changes in response to irradiation.