Author(s): Anderson EL, Baltus AE, RoepersGajadien HL, Hassold TJ, de Rooij DG,
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Abstract In eukaryotes, diploid cells give rise to haploid cells via meiosis, a program of two cell divisions preceded by one round of DNA replication. Although key molecular components of the meiotic apparatus are highly conserved among eukaryotes, the mechanisms responsible for initiating the meiotic program have diverged substantially among eukaryotes. This raises a related question in animals with two distinct sexes: Within a given species, are similar or different mechanisms of meiotic initiation used in the male and female germ lines? In mammals, this question is underscored by dramatic differences in the timing of meiotic initiation in males and females. Stra8 is a vertebrate-specific, cytoplasmic factor expressed by germ cells in response to retinoic acid. We previously demonstrated that Stra8 gene function is required for meiotic initiation in mouse embryonic ovaries. Here we report that, on an inbred C57BL/6 genetic background, the same factor is also required for meiotic initiation in germ cells of juvenile mouse testes. In juvenile C57BL/6 males lacking Stra8 gene function, the early mitotic development of germ cells appears to be undisturbed. However, these cells then fail to undergo the morphological changes that define meiotic prophase, and they do not display the molecular hallmarks of meiotic chromosome cohesion, synapsis and recombination. We conclude that, in mice, Stra8 regulates meiotic initiation in both spermatogenesis and oogenesis. Taken together with previous observations, our present findings indicate that, in both the male and female germ lines, meiosis is initiated through retinoic acid induction of Stra8.
This article was published in Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
and referenced in Biological Systems: Open Access