Impact of male fertility status on the transcriptome of the bovine epididymis.

  • Publication date : 2017-04-05


Légaré C, Akintayo A, Blondin P, Calvo E, Sullivan R. Impact of male fertility status on the transcriptome of the bovine epididymis. Mol. Hum. Reprod. 2017;:. doi: 10.1093/molehr/gax019. PubMed PMID: 28379507.

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Can region-specific transcriptional profiling of the epididymis from fertile and sub-fertile bulls predict the etiology of fertility/sub-fertility in males?The highly regulated gene expression along the bovine epididymis is affected by the fertility status of bulls used for artificial insemination.In mammals, sperm maturation and storage occur in the epididymis. Each epididymal segment has his own transcriptomic signature that modulates the intraluminal composition and consequently governs sequential modifications of the maturing male gamete.Epididymides from six Holstein bulls with documented fertility were used. These bulls were divided into two groups: high fertility (n = 3), and medium-low fertility (n = 3) and their epididymal transcriptomic profiles were analyzed.Bovine cDNA microarray probing and bioinformatic tools were used to identify genes that are differentially expressed in caput, corpus and cauda epididymidal tissues of bulls with the documented fertility index.Hierarchical clustering and principal component analysis revealed a clear separation between caput, corpus and cauda epididymides. Some transcripts characterize a particular anatomical segment, whereas others are expressed in two out of three epididymal segments. Gene ontology analysis allowed deduction of specific functions played by each epididymal segment. The transcriptional profiles between fertile versus sub-fertile conditions clustered most closely in the corpus and cauda segments, whereas the profiles in the caput segment were distinct between fertile and sub-fertile bulls. Of the differently expressed genes, 10 (AKAP4, SMCP, SPATA3, TCP11, ODF1, CTCFL, SPATA18, ADAM28, SORD and FAM161A) were found to exert functions related to reproductive systems and 5 genes (DEAD, CYST11, DEFB119, DEFB124 and MX1) were found to be associated with the defense response.The GEO number for public access of bovine epididymis microarray data is GSE96602.Further work is required to link these modulations of epididymal functions with sperm fertilizing ability in order to understand the etiology of certain cases of idiopathic infertility in livestock and men.As fertility can be quantified in bulls used for artificial insemination, this species is a unique model to aid in the understanding of male fertility/sub-fertility in man. Our data provide a molecular characterization that will facilitate advances in understanding the involvement of epididymal physiology in sub/infertility etiology.This work was supported by a grant to R.S. from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada. C.L., A.A., E.C. and R.S. have no conflict of interest to declare. P.B. is R&D director at Alliance Boviteq Inc., a bovine artificial insemination company.