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Mol Endocrinol. 2007 Mar;21(3):726-39. Epub 2006 Dec 27.

Differential functions of the Aurora-B and Aurora-C kinases in mammalian spermatogenesis.

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Department of Animal Science, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.


The Aurora kinases are cell cycle-regulatory serine-threonine kinases that have been implicated in the function of the centrosomes, kinetechores, chromosome dynamics, and cytokinesis. In comparison with other tissues, there are high levels of expression of Aurora-B and -C in testis. What their respective roles in mammalian spermatogenesis are is an open question. Here we describe the expression and distribution patterns of the three kinases in mouse testis using in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry. Importantly, the localization of Aurora-B is tightly regulated during spermatogenesis, whereas Aurora-C expression appears to be testis specific. To address the function of Aurora-B in spermatogenesis, we have generated transgenic mice using a pachytene-stage-specific promoter driving the expression of either wild-type Aurora-B or an inactive form of the kinase. Expression of the inactive Aurora-B results in abnormal spermatocytes, increased apoptosis, spermatogenic arrest, and subfertility defects. The function of Aurora-C may also be targeted in the Aurora-B transgenic mutants. To address the function of Aurora-C in testis, we generated Aurora-C knockout mice by homologous recombination. Remarkably, Aurora-C null mice were viable, yet the males had compromised fertility. Aurora-C mutant sperm display abnormalities that included heterogenous chromatin condensation, loose acrosomes, and blunted heads. These findings indicate that Aurora-B and Aurora-C serve specialized functions in mammalian spermatogenesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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