PloS one

Sertoli cell-specific ablation of miR-17-92 cluster significantly alters whole testis transcriptome without apparent phenotypic effects.

PMID 29795630


MicroRNAs are frequently organized into polycistronic clusters whose transcription is controlled by a single promoter. The miR-17-92 cluster is expressed in most embryonic and postnatal organs. It is a potent oncogene associated to several types of cancer and it is involved in several important developmental processes. In the testis, expression of the miR-17-92 cluster in the germ cells is necessary to maintain normal spermatogenesis. This cluster is also expressed in Sertoli cells (the somatic cells of the seminiferous tubules), which require miRNAs for correct cell development and survival. To study the possible role of miR-17-92 in Sertoli cell development and function and, in order to overcome the postnatal lethality of miR-17-92-/ mice, we conditionally deleted it in embryonic Sertoli cells shortly after the sex determination stage using an Amh-Cre allele. Mutant mice developed apparently normal testes and were fertile, but their testis transcriptomes contained hundreds of moderately deregulated genes, indicating that testis homeostasis is tightly controlled in mammals and that miR-17-92 expression in Sertoli cells contribute to maintain normal gene expression levels, but is unnecessary for testis development and function. Our results show that significant deregulation of hundreds of genes might have no functional consequences.