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Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2001 Oct;33(10):1027-39.

The closely related POU family transcription factors Brn-3a and Brn-3b are expressed in distinct cell types in the testis.

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Medical Molecular Biology Unit, Institute of Child Health, University College London, 30 Guilford Street, WC1N 1EH, London, UK.


Although the Brn-3a and Brn-3b POU family transcription factors were originally identified in neuronal cells, their expression in some non neuronal cell types has previously been reported. Here we report that Brn-3a and Brn-3b are also expressed in the testis with expression of each factor being observed at distinct stages of germ cell development. Thus, Brn-3a is expressed in spermatogonia whereas Brn-3b expression is observed in post-meiotic spermatids. In agreement with this, Brn-3a expression is detectable much earlier than that of Brn-3b in testes derived from sexually immature postnatal animals. Similarly, Brn-3b expression is absent in knock out mice lacking a functional CREM transcription factor in which the later stages of germ cell development do not occur, whereas Brn-3a expression is observed at similar levels in the testes of these knock out mice. Interestingly, the cellular pattern of Brn-3a expression during germ cell development coincides with that of the BRCA-1 anti-oncogene. Consistent with the possibility that Brn-3a may regulate expression of BRCA-1 in the testis, we have shown that Brn-3a can strongly activate the BRCA-1 promoter in co-transfection experiments whereas Brn-3b does not have this effect. Hence, as observed in neuronal cells, Brn-3a and Brn-3b may play distinct and important functional roles in the regulation of gene expression during germ cell development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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