Unexpected Role of [alpha]-Fetoprotein in Spermatogenesis

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Date: May 4, 2011
From: PLoS ONE(Vol. 6, Issue 5)
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Document Type: Article
Length: 4,437 words
Lexile Measure: 1390L

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Abstract :

Background Heat shock severely affects sperm production (spermatogenesis) and results in a rapid loss of haploid germ cells, or in other words, sperm formation (spermiogenesis) is inhibited. However, the mechanisms behind the effects of heat shock on spermatogenesis are obscure. Methodology/Principal Findings To identify the inhibitory factor of spermiogenesis, experimental cryptorchid (EC) mice were used in this study. Here we show that [alpha]-fetoprotein (AFP) is specifically expressed in the testes of EC mice by proteome analysis. AFP was also specifically localized spermatocytes by immunohistochemical analysis and was secreted into the circulation system of EC mice by immunoblot analysis. Since spermatogenesis of an advanced mammal cannot be reproduced with in vitro, we performed the microinjection of AFP into the seminiferous tubules of normal mice to determine whether AFP inhibits spermiogenesis in vivo. AFP was directly responsible for the block in spermiogenesis of normal mice. To investigate whether AFP inhibits cell differentiation in other models, using EC mice we performed a partial hepatectomy (PH) that triggers a rapid regenerative response in the remnant liver tissue. We also found that liver regeneration is inhibited in EC mice with PH. The result suggests that AFP released into the blood of EC mice regulates liver regeneration by inhibiting the cell division of hepatocytes. Conclusions/Significance AFP is a well-known cancer-specific marker, but AFP has no known function in healthy human beings. Our findings indicate that AFP expressed under EC conditions plays a role as a regulatory factor in spermatogenesis and in hepatic generation.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A476892181