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      Pituitary Androgen Receptor Signalling Regulates Prolactin but Not Gonadotrophins in the Male Mouse

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          Production of the androgen testosterone is controlled by a negative feedback loop within the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis. Stimulation of testicular Leydig cells by pituitary luteinising hormone (LH) is under the control of hypothalamic gonadotrophin releasing hormone (GnRH), while suppression of LH secretion by the pituitary is controlled by circulating testosterone. Exactly how androgens exert their feedback control of gonadotrophin secretion (and whether this is at the level of the pituitary), as well as the role of AR in other pituitary cell types remains unclear. To investigate these questions, we exploited a transgenic mouse line (Foxg1 Cre/+; AR fl/y) which lacks androgen receptor in the pituitary gland. Both circulating testosterone and gonadotrophins are unchanged in adulthood, demonstrating that AR signalling is dispensable in the male mouse pituitary for testosterone-dependent regulation of LH secretion. In contrast, Foxg1 Cre/+; AR fl/y males have a significant increase in circulating prolactin, suggesting that, rather than controlling gonadotrophins, AR-signalling in the pituitary acts to suppress aberrant prolactin production in males.

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          Most cited references 47

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          Targeting of cre to the Foxg1 (BF-1) locus mediates loxP recombination in the telencephalon and other developing head structures.

          The use of genetics to study the development of the telencephalon and derivatives such as the cerebral cortex has been limited. The telencephalon begins to form midway through gestation, and targeted mutations in genes suspected of playing roles in its development often lead to early phenotypes that preclude analysis of their role at later stages. This problem can be circumvented using a Cre/loxP recombination system. A mouse line was produced in which cre was targeted to the Foxg1 (BF-1) locus, a gene expressed specifically in the telencephalon and discrete head structures. Crosses between Foxg1-Cre mice and three separate loxP reporter mice generated embryos with recombination patterns matching that expected from the normal pattern of Foxg1 expression. Recombination occurs invariably in the telencephalon, anterior optic vesicle, otic vesicle, facial and head ectoderm, olfactory epithelium, mid-hindbrain junction, and pharyngeal pouches. Recombination in some animals also occurs less efficiently in tissues not known to express Foxg1. We show that the genetic background of the parental mice and the loxP target allele can each contribute to differences in the exact pattern of recombination. Collectively, these data show that Foxg1-Cre mice should be useful in the deletion or ectopic expression of any floxed target gene in a Foxg1-like pattern. Copyright 2000 Academic Press.
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            Differential regulation of KiSS-1 mRNA expression by sex steroids in the brain of the male mouse.

            Kisspeptins are products of the Kiss1 gene, which bind to GPR54, a G protein-coupled receptor. Kisspeptins and GPR54 have been implicated in the neuroendocrine regulation of GnRH secretion. To test the hypothesis that testosterone regulates Kiss1 gene expression, we compared the expression of KiSS-1 mRNA among groups of intact, castrated, and castrated/testosterone (T)-treated male mice. In the arcuate nucleus (Arc), castration resulted in a significant increase in KiSS-1 mRNA, which was completely reversed with T replacement, whereas in the anteroventral periventricular nucleus, the results were the opposite, i.e. castration decreased and T increased KiSS-1 mRNA expression. In the Arc, the effects of T on KiSS-1 mRNA were completely mimicked by estrogen but only partially mimicked by dihydrotestosterone, a nonaromatizable androgen, suggesting that both estrogen receptor (ER) and androgen receptor (AR) play a role in T-mediated regulation of KiSS-1. Studies of the effects of T on KiSS-1 expression in mice with either a deletion of the ERalpha or a hypomorphic allele to the AR revealed that the effects of T are mediated by both ERalpha and AR pathways, which was confirmed by the presence of either ERalpha or AR coexpression in most KiSS-1 neurons in the Arc. These observations suggest that KiSS-1 neurons in the Arc, whose transcriptional activity is inhibited by T, are targets for the negative feedback regulation of GnRH secretion, whereas KiSS-1 neurons in the anteroventral periventricular nucleus, whose activity is stimulated by T, may mediate other T-dependent processes.
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              Targeted disruption of the estrogen receptor gene in male mice causes alteration of spermatogenesis and infertility.

              The reproductive system of male mice homozygous for a mutation in the estrogen receptor (ER) gene (ER knock-out; ERKO) appears normal at the anatomical level. However, these males are infertile, indicating an essential role for ER-mediated processes in the regulation of male reproduction. Adult ERKO male mice have significantly fewer epididymal sperm than heterozygous or wild-type males. Although spermatogenesis is occurring in some seminiferous tubules of 3- to 5-month-old ERKO males, other tubules either have a dilated lumen and a disorganized seminiferous epithelium with few spermatogenic cells or lack a lumen and contain mainly Sertoli cells. There are no obvious differences in seminiferous tubules at 10 days of age between wild-type and ERKO mice, but the lumen in ERKO males is dilated in all seminiferous tubules by 20 days. However, spermatogenesis progresses and similar numbers of sperm are present in the cauda epididymis of ERKO and wild-type males until 10 weeks of age. Disruption of spermatogenesis and degeneration of the seminiferous tubules become apparent after 10 weeks in the caudal pole of the testis and progresses in a wave to the cranial pole by 6 months. However, the seminal vesicles, coagulating glands, prostate, and epididymis do not appear to be altered morphologically in ERKO mice. Serum testosterone levels are somewhat elevated, but LH and FSH levels are not significantly different from those in wild-type males. Sperm from 8- to 16-week-old mice have reduced motility and are ineffective at fertilizing eggs in vitro. In addition, ERKO males housed overnight with hormone-primed wild-type females produce significantly fewer copulatory plugs than do heterozygous or wild-type males. These results suggest that estrogen action is required for fertility in male mice and that the mutation of the ER in ERKO males leads to reduced mating frequency, low sperm numbers, and defective sperm function.

                Author and article information

                Role: Academic Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                23 March 2015
                : 10
                : 3
                Medical Research Council Centre for Reproductive Health, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
                Baylor College of Medicine, UNITED STATES
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: LO MC LBS. Performed the experiments: LO MC MTF LC LM. Analyzed the data: LO MC MTF LC LM. Wrote the paper: LO LBS.


                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited

                Page count
                Figures: 8, Tables: 2, Pages: 18
                This work was funded by a Medical Research Council ( Program Grant Award (G1100354/1) to LBS and a Society for Endocrinology ( Early Career Grant Award to LO. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Research Article
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                All relevant data are within the paper.



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