- Publication date : 2019-02-08
Bouchard MF, Bergeron F, Grenier Delaney J, Harvey LM, Viger RS. In vivo ablation of the conserved GATA binding motif in the Amh promoter impairs Amh expression in the male mouse. Endocrinology. 2019;:. doi: 10.1210/en.2019-00047. PubMed PMID: 30759208.
GATA4 is an essential transcriptional regulator required for gonadal development, differentiation, and function. In the developing testis, proposed GATA4-regulated genes include steroidogenic factor 1 (Nr5a1), SRY-related HMG box 9 (Sox9), and anti-Müllerian hormone (Amh). While some of these genes have been validated as genuine GATA4 targets, it remains unclear whether GATA4 is a direct regulator of endogenous Amh transcription. We used a CRISPR/Cas9-based approach to specifically inactivate or delete the sole GATA binding motif of the proximal mouse Amh promoter. AMH mRNA and protein levels were assessed at developmental timepoints corresponding to elevated AMH levels: fetal and neonate testes in males and adult ovaries in females. In males, loss of GATA binding to the Amh promoter significantly reduced Amh expression. While the loss of GATA binding did not block the initiation of Amh transcription, AMH mRNA and protein levels failed to upregulate in the developing fetal and neonate testis. Interestingly, adult male mice presented no anatomical anomalies and had no evidence of retained Müllerian duct structures, suggesting that AMH levels, although markedly reduced, were sufficient to masculinize the male embryo. In contrast to males, GATA binding to the Amh promoter was dispensable for Amh expression in the adult ovary. These results provide conclusive evidence that in males, GATA4 is a positive modulator of Amh expression, that works in concert with other key transcription factors to ensure that the Amh gene is sufficiently expressed in a correct spatiotemporal manner during fetal and prepubertal testis development.