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The male germline-specific protein MAPS is indispensable for pachynema progression and fertility

  • Li, Miao1, 2
  • Zheng, Jiahuan1, 2
  • Li, Gaopeng3
  • Lin, Zexiong1
  • Li, Dongliang1
  • Liu, Dongteng1, 2
  • Feng, Haiwei1, 2
  • Cao, Dandan1
  • Ng, Ernest H. Y.1, 2
  • Li, Raymond H. W.1, 2
  • Han, Chunsheng4, 4, 4
  • Yeung, William S. B.1, 2
  • Chow, Louise T.3
  • Wang, Hengbin3
  • Liu, Kui1, 2
  • 1 The University of Hong Kong–Shenzhen Hospital, China , (China)
  • 2 The University of Hong Kong, China , (China)
  • 3 University of Alabama at Birmingham, AL
  • 4 Chinese Academy of Sciences, China , (China)
Published Article
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Publication Date
Feb 18, 2021
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2025421118
PMID: 33602822
PMCID: PMC7923350
PubMed Central
  • Biological Sciences
  • Developmental Biology


Meiosis is a specialized cell division that creates haploid germ cells from diploid progenitors. Through differential RNA expression analyses, we previously identified a number of mouse genes that were dramatically elevated in spermatocytes, relative to their very low expression in spermatogonia and somatic organs. Here, we investigated in detail 1700102P08Rik, one of these genes, and independently conclude that it encodes a male germline-specific protein, in agreement with a recent report. We demonstrated that it is essential for pachynema progression in spermatocytes and named it male pachynema-specific (MAPS) protein. Mice lacking Maps ( Maps −/− ) suffered from pachytene arrest and spermatocyte death, leading to male infertility, whereas female fertility was not affected. Interestingly, pubertal Maps −/− spermatocytes were arrested at early pachytene stage, accompanied by defects in DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair, crossover formation, and XY body formation. In contrast, adult Maps −/− spermatocytes only exhibited partially defective crossover but nonetheless were delayed or failed in progression from early to mid- and late pachytene stage, resulting in cell death. Furthermore, we report a significant transcriptional dysregulation in autosomes and XY chromosomes in both pubertal and adult Maps −/− pachytene spermatocytes, including failed meiotic sex chromosome inactivation (MSCI). Further experiments revealed that MAPS overexpression in vitro dramatically decreased the ubiquitination levels of cellular proteins. Conversely, in Maps −/− pachytene cells, protein ubiquitination was dramatically increased, likely contributing to the large-scale disruption in gene expression in pachytene cells. Thus, MAPS is a protein essential for pachynema progression in male mice, possibly in mammals in general.

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