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Endocrinology. 2002 Feb;143(2):426-35.

Identification of a novel gene product, Sertoli cell gene with a zinc finger domain, that is important for FSH activation of testicular Sertoli cells.

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Center for Reproductive Biology, School of Molecular Biosciences, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington 99164-4231, USA.


Sertoli cells provide the cytoarchitectural support and microenvironment necessary for the process of spermatogenesis. A novel, ubiquitously expressed cDNA clone was isolated from Sertoli cells and termed Sertoli cell gene with a zinc finger domain (SERZ). A significant homology of SERZ was found with a mouse genomic sequence that suggested the presence of at least 10 exons. An open reading frame at the 5'-end of the cDNA, termed SERZ-alpha, had a cryptic basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) domain, but no start codon. When a start codon was engineered into the 5'-end of the cDNA, an in vitro translation product of SERZ-alpha was obtained. The longest second open reading frame with an ATG start site at 304 bp from the 5'-end coded for a 308-amino acid SERZ-beta polypeptide. Motif analysis and BLAST search of SERZ-beta showed significant homology to the DHHC domain of conserved zinc finger proteins. A number of potential phosphorylation sites were observed in the SERZ-beta polypeptide sequence. The long 5'-untranslated region of SERZ-beta prompted an investigation of both potential alternate polypeptide products, SERZ-alpha and SERZ-beta. Both SERZ-alpha and SERZ-beta proteins were detected with specific antibodies to SERZ-beta and the 5'-end open reading frame SERZ-alpha in a Western blot analysis of total Sertoli cell proteins. The presence of the SERZ-beta polypeptide was also confirmed by in vitro translation of the cDNA, but SERZ-alpha was not translated in vitro in the absence of an engineered start codon. The expression pattern of SERZ mRNA was observed in all tissues examined. The transcript size of SERZ as determined by Northern blot analysis is approximately 2.7 kb. An antisense oligonucleotide to SERZ was found not to influence basal levels of transferrin promoter activation, but significantly blocked FSH-induced transferrin promoter activation. SERZ mRNA expression was not regulated by FSH treatment of Sertoli cell cultures. In summary, a novel gene product, SERZ, was identified that appears to have a role in maintaining Sertoli cell differentiated functions and mediating FSH actions. Translation of SERZ may give rise to two gene products; however, the SERZ-beta containing the zinc finger domain is probably the principal product of the SERZ gene.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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