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Dev Biol. 2006 Jun 1;294(1):161-7. Epub 2006 Mar 29.

Sohlh1 is essential for spermatogonial differentiation.

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Faculty Center, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Baylor College of Medicine, 1709 Dryden Street, Suite 1100, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Spermatogonia are adult germline stem cells that can both self-renew and differentiate into spermatocytes. Little is known about factors necessary for spermatogonial differentiation. We identified a novel germ-cell-specific transcription factor that we named Sohlh1 (testis and ovary expressed basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor). In males, Sohlh1 is preferentially expressed in prespermatogonia and Type A spermatogonia. Loss of Sohlh1 causes infertility by disrupting spermatogonial differentiation into spermatocytes. Seven-day-old testes without Sohlh1 still express the testis-specific transcription factors Etv5, Taf4b, Zfp148, and Plzf, overexpress a novel Tohlh2 bHLH transcription factor, but lack LIM homeobox gene Lhx8 and show reduced expression of Ngn3. Sohlh1 represents the first testis-specific bHLH transcription factor that is essential for spermatogonial differentiation.

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