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BMC Dev Biol. 2008 Feb 27;8:22. doi: 10.1186/1471-213X-8-22.

Expression of the Ladybird-like homeobox 2 transcription factor in the developing mouse testis and epididymis.

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Ontogeny-Reproduction Research Unit, CHUQ Research Centre (CHUL), Québec City, Québec, Canada.



Homeoproteins are a class of transcription factors that are well-known regulators of organogenesis and cell differentiation in numerous tissues, including the male reproductive system. Indeed, a handful of homeoproteins have so far been identified in the testis and epididymis where a few were shown to play important developmental roles. Through a degenerate PCR approach aimed at identifying novel homeoproteins expressed in the male reproductive system, we have detected several homeoproteins most of which had never been described before in this tissue. One of these homeoproteins is Ladybird-like homeobox 2 (Lbx2), a homeobox factor mostly known to be expressed in the nervous system.


To better define the expression profile of Lbx2 in the male reproductive system, we have performed in situ hybridization throughout testicular and epididymal development and into adulthood. Lbx2 expression was also confirmed by real time RT-PCR in those tissues and in several testicular and epididymal cell lines. In the epididymis, a highly segmented tissue, Lbx2 shows a regionalized expression profile, being more expressed in proximal segments of the caput epididymis than any other segment. In the testis, we found that Lbx2 is constitutively expressed at high levels in Sertoli cells. In interstitial cells, Lbx2 is weakly expressed during fetal and early postnatal life, highly expressed around P32-P36, and absent in adult animals. Finally, Lbx2 can also be detected in a population of germ cells in adults.


Altogether, our data suggest that the homeoprotein Lbx2 might be involved in the regulation of male reproductive system development and cell differentiation as well as in male epididymal segmentation.

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