Asian Journal of Andrology (2020-01-01)

Deficiency of the transcription factor PLAG1 results in aberrant coiling and morphology of the epididymis

  • Joanne Wong,
  • Almas R Juma,
  • Stephanie C Tran,
  • Jemma G Gasperoni,
  • Sylvia V H Grommen,
  • Bert De Groef

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 22, no. 4
pp. 342 – 347


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Mice deficient in the transcription factor pleomorphic adenoma gene 1 (PLAG1) exhibit reproductive issues that are characterized, in part, by decreased progressive sperm motility in the male. However, the underlying cause of this impairment is unknown. As epididymal transit is critical for sperm maturation and motility, the morphology of the epididymis of Plag1-deficient mice was investigated and the spatial expression patterns of PLAG1 protein and mRNA were identified. Using X-gal staining and in situ hybridization, PLAG1 was shown to be widely expressed in both the epithelium and stroma in all regions of the mouse epididymis. Interestingly, the X-gal staining pattern was markedly different in the cauda, where it could be suggestive of PLAG1 secretion into the epididymal lumen. At all ages investigated, the morphology of epididymides from Plag1 knockout (KO) mice was aberrant; the tubule failed to elongate and coil, particularly in the corpus and cauda, and the cauda was malformed, lacking its usual bulbous shape. Moreover, the epididymides from Plag1 KO mice were significantly reduced in size relative to body weight. In 20% of Plag1-deficient mice, the left testicle and epididymis were lacking. The impaired morphogenesis of the epididymal tubule is likely to be a major contributing factor to the fertility problems observed in male Plag1-deficient mice. These results also establish PLAG1 as an important regulator of male reproduction, not only through its involvement in testicular sperm production, but also via its role in the development and function of the epididymis.