Geminin plays a critical role in cell cycle regulation by regulating DNA replication and serves as a transcriptional molecular switch that directs cell fate decisions. Spermatogonia lacking Geminin disappear during the initial wave of mitotic proliferation, while geminin is not required for meiotic progression of spermatocytes. It is unclear whether geminin plays a role in pre-meiotic DNA replication in later-stage spermatogonia and their subsequent differentiation. Here, we selectively disrupted Geminin in the male germline using the Stra8-Cre/loxP conditional knockout system. Geminin-deficient mice showed atrophic testes and infertility, concomitant with impaired spermatogenesis and reduced sperm motility. The number of undifferentiated spermatogonia and spermatocytes was significantly reduced; the pachytene stage was impaired most severely. Expression of cell proliferation-associated genes was reduced in Gmnnfl/Δ; Stra8-Cre testes compared to in controls. Increased DNA damage, decreased Cdt1, and increased phosphorylation of Chk1/Chk2 were observed in Geminin-deficient germ cells. These results suggest that geminin plays important roles in pre-meiotic DNA replication and subsequent spermatogenesis.
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