Cells, tissues, organs

Developmental expression of the pluripotency factor sal-like protein 4 in the monkey, human and mouse testis: restriction to premeiotic germ cells.

PMID 22572102


SALL4 (sal-like protein 4) is a pluripotency transcription factor, which is highly expressed in embryonic stem (ES) cells and which is essential for mouse preimplantation development. In adult mouse organs, Sall4 mRNA is highly expressed in the testis and ovary, while there is only little or no expression in other organs. There is also a high expression of SALL4 in human testicular germ cell tumors. However, there is as yet no detailed analysis of SALL4 expression during mammalian testicular development. We analyzed SALL4 expression in ES cells, preimplantation embryos, and the developing and adult testis of a nonhuman primate (NHP) species, the common marmoset monkey (Callithrix jacchus). Immunofluorescence revealed SALL4 in the nuclei of marmoset ES cells and preimplantation embryos. Marmoset SALL4 isoform analysis in ES cells and newborn and adult testis by RT- PCR and Western blotting showed two different isoforms, SALL4-A and SALL4-B. Immunohistochemistry localized this transcription factor to the nuclei of primordial germ cells and most gonocytes in the prenatal and early postnatal marmoset testis. In the pubertal and adult testis SALL4 was present in undifferentiated spermatogonia. In the developing and adult human and mouse testis SALL4 expression mimicked the pattern in the marmoset. Adult testes from additional NHP species, the treeshrew, the cat and the dog also exhibited SALL4 in undifferentiated spermatogonia, indicating a conserved expression in the mammalian testis. Taking into account the importance of SALL4 for mouse development, we conclude that SALL4 may play an important role during mammalian germ cell development and is involved in the regulation of spermatogonial proliferation in the adult testis.