Identification of Sertoli cell-specific transcripts in the mouse testis and the role of FSH and androgen in the control of Sertoli cell activity

U Soffientini, D Rebourcet, M H Abel, S Lee, G Hamilton, P A Fowler , L B Smith, P J O'Shaughnessy (Corresponding Author)

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Background: The Sertoli cells act to induce testis differentiation and subsequent development in fetal and post-natal life which makes them key to an understanding of testis biology. As a major step towards characterisation of factors involved in Sertoli cell function we have identified Sertoli cell-specific transcripts in the mouse testis and have used the data to identify Sertoli cell-specific transcripts altered in mice lacking follicle-stimulating hormone receptors (FSHRKO) and/or androgen receptors (AR) in the Sertoli cells (SCARKO).

Results: Adult iDTR mice were injected with busulfan to ablate the germ cells and 50 days later they were treated with diphtheria toxin (DTX) to ablate the Sertoli cells. RNAseq carried out on testes from control, busulfan-treated and busulfan + DTX-treated mice identified 701 Sertoli-specific transcripts and 4302 germ cell-specific transcripts. This data was mapped against results from microarrays using testicular mRNA from 20 day-old FSHRKO, SCARKO and FSHRKO.SCARKO mice. Results show that of the 534 Sertoli cell-specific transcripts present on the gene chips, 85% were altered in the FSHRKO mice and 94% in the SCARKO mice (mostly reduced in both cases). In the FSHRKO.SCARKO mice additive or synergistic effects were seen for most transcripts. Age-dependent studies on a selected number of Sertoli cell-specific transcripts, showed that the marked effects in the FSHRKO at 20 days had largely disappeared by adulthood although synergistic effects of FSHR and AR knockout were seen.

Conclusions: These studies have identified the Sertoli cell-specific transcriptome in the mouse testis and have shown that most genes in the transcriptome are FSH- and androgen-dependent at puberty although the importance of FSH diminishes towards adulthood.
Original languageEnglish
Article number972
JournalBMC Genomics
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2017


  • sertoli
  • RNAseq
  • microarray
  • transcriptome
  • germ cell
  • testis
  • follicle-simulating hormone
  • androgen


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