- Publication date : 2016-10-03
Jerczynski O, Lacroix-Pépin N, Boilard E, Calvo E, Bernet A, Fortier MA, Björkgren I, Sipilä P, Belleannée C. Role of Dicer1-Dependent Factors in the Paracrine Regulation of Epididymal Gene Expression. PLoS ONE. 2016;11:e0163876. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0163876. PubMed PMID: 27695046.
Dicer1 is an endoribonuclease involved in the biogenesis of functional molecules such as microRNAs (miRNAs) and endogenous small interfering RNAs (endo-siRNAs). These small non-coding RNAs are important regulators of post-transcriptional gene expression and participate in the control of male fertility. With the knowledge that 1) Dicer1-dependent factors are required for proper sperm maturation in the epididymis, and that 2) miRNAs are potent mediators of intercellular communication in most biological systems, we investigated the role of Dicer1-dependent factors produced by the proximal epididymis (initial segment/caput)- including miRNAs- on the regulation of epididymal gene expression in the distal epididymis regions (i.e. corpus and cauda). To this end, we performed comparative microarray and ANOVA analyses on control vs. Defb41iCre/wt;Dicer1fl/fl mice in which functional Dicer1 is absent from the principal cells of the proximal epididymis. We identified 35 and 33 transcripts that displayed significant expression level changes in the corpus and cauda regions (Fold change > 2 or < -2; p < 0.002), respectively. Among these transcripts, Zn-alpha 2-glycoprotein (Azgp1) encodes for a sperm equatorial protein whose expression in the epididymis of Dicer1 cKO mice is significantly increased compared to controls. In addition, 154 miRNAs, including miR-210, miR-672, miR-191 and miR-204, showed significantly impaired biogenesis in the absence of Dicer1 from the principal cells of the proximal epididymis (Fold change > 2 or < -2; p < 0.01). These miRNAs are secreted via extracellular vesicles (EVs) derived from the DC2 epididymal principal cell line, and their expression correlates with target transcripts involved in distinct biological pathways, as evidenced by in silico analysis. Albeit correlative and based on in silico approach, our study proposes that Dicer1-dependent factors trigger- directly or not-significant genes expression changes in distinct regions of this organ. The paracrine control of functions important to post-testicular sperm maturation by Dicer1-dependent factors may open new avenues for the identification of molecular targets important to male fertility control.