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Genesis. 2010 May;48(5):328-42. doi: 10.1002/dvg.20620.

Ehd4 is required to attain normal prepubertal testis size but dispensable for fertility in male mice.

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Eppley Institute for Research in Cancer and Allied Diseases, UNMC-Eppley Cancer Center, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska, USA.


The four highly homologous members of the C-terminal EH domain-containing (EHD) protein family (EHD1-4) regulate endocytic recycling. To delineate the role of EHD4 in normal physiology and development, mice with a conditional knockout of the Ehd4 gene were generated. PCR of genomic DNA and Western blotting of organ lysates from Ehd4(-/-) mice confirmed EHD4 deletion. Ehd4(-/-) mice were viable and born at expected Mendelian ratios; however, males showed a 50% reduction in testis weight, obvious from postnatal day 31. An early (Day 10) increase in germ cell proliferation and apoptosis and a later increase in apoptosis (Day 31) were seen in the Ehd4(-/-) testis. Other defects included a progressive reduction in seminiferous tubule diameter, dysregulation of seminiferous epithelium, and head abnormalities in elongated spermatids. As a consequence, lower sperm counts and reduced fertility were observed in Ehd4(-/-) males. Interestingly, EHD protein expression was seen to be temporally regulated in the testis and EHD4 levels peaked between days 10 and 15. In the adult testis, EHD4 was highly expressed in primary spermatocytes and EHD4 deletion altered the levels of other EHD proteins in an age-dependent manner. We conclude that high levels of EHD1 in the adult Ehd4(-/-) testis functionally compensate for lack of EHD4 and prevents the development of severe fertility defects. Our results suggest a role for EHD4 in the proper development of postmitotic and postmeiotic germ cells and implicate EHD protein-mediated endocytic recycling as an important process in germ cell development and testis function.

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