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      Genome engineering uncovers 54 evolutionarily conserved and testis-enriched genes that are not required for male fertility in mice.

      Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

      Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

      spermatozoa, genetically modified mice, genome editing

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          Abstract

          Gene-expression analysis studies from Schultz et al. estimate that more than 2,300 genes in the mouse genome are expressed predominantly in the male germ line. As of their 2003 publication [Schultz N, Hamra FK, Garbers DL (2003) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 100(21):12201-12206], the functions of the majority of these testis-enriched genes during spermatogenesis and fertilization were largely unknown. Since the study by Schultz et al., functional analysis of hundreds of reproductive-tract-enriched genes have been performed, but there remain many testis-enriched genes for which their relevance to reproduction remain unexplored or unreported. Historically, a gene knockout is the "gold standard" to determine whether a gene's function is essential in vivo. Although knockout mice without apparent phenotypes are rarely published, these knockout mouse lines and their phenotypic information need to be shared to prevent redundant experiments. Herein, we used bioinformatic and experimental approaches to uncover mouse testis-enriched genes that are evolutionarily conserved in humans. We then used gene-disruption approaches, including Knockout Mouse Project resources (targeting vectors and mice) and CRISPR/Cas9, to mutate and quickly analyze the fertility of these mutant mice. We discovered that 54 mutant mouse lines were fertile. Thus, despite evolutionary conservation of these genes in vertebrates and in some cases in all eukaryotes, our results indicate that these genes are not individually essential for male mouse fertility. Our phenotypic data are highly relevant in this fiscally tight funding period and postgenomic age when large numbers of genomes are being analyzed for disease association, and will prevent unnecessary expenditures and duplications of effort by others.

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          Most cited references 29

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          The biology of infertility: research advances and clinical challenges.

          Reproduction is required for the survival of all mammalian species, and thousands of essential 'sex' genes are conserved through evolution. Basic research helps to define these genes and the mechanisms responsible for the development, function and regulation of the male and female reproductive systems. However, many infertile couples continue to be labeled with the diagnosis of idiopathic infertility or given descriptive diagnoses that do not provide a cause for their defect. For other individuals with a known etiology, effective cures are lacking, although their infertility is often bypassed with assisted reproductive technologies (ART), some accompanied by safety or ethical concerns. Certainly, progress in the field of reproduction has been realized in the twenty-first century with advances in the understanding of the regulation of fertility, with the production of over 400 mutant mouse models with a reproductive phenotype and with the promise of regenerative gonadal stem cells. Indeed, the past six years have witnessed a virtual explosion in the identification of gene mutations or polymorphisms that cause or are linked to human infertility. Translation of these findings to the clinic remains slow, however, as do new methods to diagnose and treat infertile couples. Additionally, new approaches to contraception remain elusive. Nevertheless, the basic and clinical advances in the understanding of the molecular controls of reproduction are impressive and will ultimately improve patient care.
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            Is Open Access

            Generation of mutant mice by pronuclear injection of circular plasmid expressing Cas9 and single guided RNA

            CRISPR/Cas mediated genome editing has been successfully demonstrated in mammalian cells and further applications for generating mutant mice were reported by injecting humanized Cas9 (hCas) mRNA and single guide RNA into fertilized eggs. Here we inject the circular plasmids expressing hCas9 and sgRNA into mouse zygotes and obtained mutant mice within a month. When we targeted the Cetn1 locus, 58.8% (10/17) of the pups carried the mutations and six of them were homozygously mutated. Co-injection of the plasmids targeting different loci resulted in the successful removal of the flanked region in two out of three mutant pups. The efficient mutagenesis was also observed at the Prm1 locus. Among the 46 offspring carrying CRISPR/Cas plasmid mediated mutations, only two of them carried the hCas9 transgene. The pronuclear injection of circular plasmid expressing hCas9/sgRNA complex is a rapid, simple, and reproducible method for targeted mutagenesis.
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              A multitude of genes expressed solely in meiotic or postmeiotic spermatogenic cells offers a myriad of contraceptive targets.

              Understanding mammalian spermatozoan development and the events surrounding fertilization has grown slowly, in part because of uncertainty about the number and identity of the cellular components involved. Determination of those transcripts expressed specifically by germ cells should provide an inclusive list of probable critical proteins. Here, total mouse testis transcript profiles were trimmed of transcripts found in cultures enriched in Sertoli or interstitial cells to yield a germ cell-enriched transcript profile. Monitoring of changes of this profile in the developing testis identified 1,652 genes whose transcript abundance increased markedly coincident with the onset of meiosis. Remarkably, 351 of these genes (approximately equal to 20%) appear to be expressed only in the male germline. Germ cell-specific transcripts are much less common earlier in testis development. Further analysis of the UniGene EST database coupled with quantitative PCR indicates that approximately 4% of the mouse genome is dedicated to expression in postmeiotic male germ cells. Most or many of the protein products of these transcripts are probably retained in mature spermatozoa. Targeted disruption of 19 of these genes has indicated that a majority have roles critical for normal fertility. Thus, we find an astonishing number of genes expressed specifically by male germ cells late in development. This extensive group provides a plethora of potential targets for germ cell-directed contraception and a staggering number of candidate proteins that could be critical for fertilization.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                27357688
                4948324
                10.1073/pnas.1608458113

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