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Gene. 2009 May 1;436(1-2):30-6. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2009.02.003. Epub 2009 Feb 13.

Leydig cells express the myelin proteolipid protein gene and incorporate a new alternatively spliced exon.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR 72205, USA.


Although the myelin proteolipid protein gene (Plp1) is highly expressed in the central nervous system encoding the most abundant myelin protein in oligodendrocytes, it is also expressed in other tissues, including testis. Transgenic studies with mice that harbor Plp1-lacZ fusion genes suggest that Leydig cells are the source of Plp1 gene expression in testis. However, virtually nothing is known about Plp1 gene regulation in Leydig cells, which is the focus of this study. The first intron contains both positive and negative regulatory elements that are important in regulating Plp1 gene expression in oligodendrocytes. To test whether these elements are functional in Leydig cells, a battery of Plp1-lacZ fusion genes with partial deletion of Plp1 intron 1 sequence was transfected into the mouse Leydig cell line, TM3. Results presented here suggest that an enhancer, which is very potent in oligodendrocytes, is only nominally active in TM3 cells. The intron also contains several negative regulatory elements that are operative in TM3 cells. Moreover a new exon (exon 1.2) was identified within the first 'intron' resulting in novel splice variants in TM3 cells. Western blot analysis suggests that these splice variants, along with those containing another alternatively spliced exon (exon 1.1) derived from intron 1 sequence, give rise to multiple Plp1 gene products in the mouse testis.

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