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Krüppel-like factor 4 is involved in functional differentiation of testicular Sertoli cells

Authors
Journal
Developmental Biology
0012-1606
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
315
Issue
2
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2007.12.018
Keywords
  • Krüppel-Like Factor 4
  • Sertoli Cell
  • Testis
  • Spermatogenesis
  • Epithelial Cell Polarity
  • Exocytosis
  • Vesicle
  • Gene Cluster
  • Differentiation
Disciplines
  • Biology

Abstract

Abstract Krüppel-like factor 4 (KLF4) is a pleiotropic zinc finger transcription factor that regulates genes being involved in differentiation and cell-cycle control. Knockout studies revealed a critical function for KLF4 in the terminal differentiation of many epithelial cells. In testicular Sertoli cells, Klf4 is strongly inducible by the glycoprotein follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). Because KLF4 is essential for postnatal survival in mice, we deleted Klf4 specifically in Sertoli cells using the Cre/loxP system. Importantly, around postnatal day 18, a critical period of terminal Sertoli cell differentiation, mutant seminiferous tubules exhibited a disorganized germinal epithelium and delayed lumen formation. The ultrastructural finding of highly vacuolized Sertoli cell cytoplasm and the identification of differentially expressed genes, which are known to play roles during vesicle transport and fusion or for maintenance of the differentiated cell state, suggest impaired apical secretion of the Sertoli cell. Interestingly, a high proportion of all identified genes was localized in a small subregion of chromosome 7, suggesting coordinated regulation. Intriguingly, adult mutant mice are fertile and show normal testicular morphology, although the testosterone levels are decreased. In summary, KLF4 plays a significant role for proper and timely Sertoli cell differentiation in pubertal mice.

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