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Molecular and cellular biology

Hypogonadism Associated with Cyp19a1 (Aromatase) Posttranscriptional Upregulation in Celf1 Knockout Mice.


PMID 26169831

Abstract

CELF1 is a multifunctional RNA-binding protein that controls several aspects of RNA fate. The targeted disruption of the Celf1 gene in mice causes male infertility due to impaired spermiogenesis, the postmeiotic differentiation of male gametes. Here, we investigated the molecular reasons that underlie this testicular phenotype. By measuring sex hormone levels, we detected low concentrations of testosterone in Celf1-null mice. We investigated the effect of Celf1 disruption on the expression levels of steroidogenic enzyme genes, and we observed that Cyp19a1 was upregulated. Cyp19a1 encodes aromatase, which transforms testosterone into estradiol. Administration of testosterone or the aromatase inhibitor letrozole partly rescued the spermiogenesis defects, indicating that a lack of testosterone associated with excessive aromatase contributes to the testicular phenotype. In vivo and in vitro interaction assays demonstrated that CELF1 binds to Cyp19a1 mRNA, and reporter assays supported the conclusion that CELF1 directly represses Cyp19a1 translation. We conclude that CELF1 downregulates Cyp19a1 (Aromatase) posttranscriptionally to achieve high concentrations of testosterone compatible with spermiogenesis completion. We discuss the implications of these findings with respect to reproductive defects in men, including patients suffering from isolated hypogonadotropic hypogonadism and myotonic dystrophy type I.

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