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PLoS One. 2013 Apr 17;8(4):e61558. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0061558. Print 2013.

Transcriptome profiling of the murine testis during the first wave of spermatogenesis.

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The Finnish Microarray and Sequencing Centre, Turku Centre for Biotechnology, University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University, Tykistökatu 6, Turku, Finland.


Correct gene expression patterns form the basis for male germ cell differentiation and male fertility. Although previous studies have elucidated the importance of testis specific gene expression, the exact transcripts and comprehensive gene expression patterns remain unknown. Large scale sequencing techniques have enabled cost effective analysis of gene expression and isoform studies. Using the SOLiD 4 next-generation sequencing platform we have investigated the gene expression patterns at five different time points during the first wave on murine spermatogenesis. Our results highlight the upregulation of spermatogenesis related biological processes and associated cellular components. Elucidation of differential gene expression at important time points during the sperm development emphasizes the importance of correct timing of gene expression within biological processes. Differential gene level expression was analyzed with R/Bioconductor's Limma package and isoform analysis was conducted with the Cufflinks pipeline. At gene level total of 2494 differentially expressed genes were identified and Cufflinks characterized over 160,000 gene isoforms, of which 29% were novel transcripts assigned to known genes. Isoforms were detected for 57% of expressed genes and in a total over 26,000 genes were expressed in the testis. Differential promoter and transcription start site usage appears also to play a role in regulation of gene expression during spermatogenesis. Furthermore, we identified 947 upregulated long non-coding RNAs during the first wave of spermatogenesis. These RNAs appeared to be highly specific to different time points. Transcriptomic analysis of testis tissue samples is highly informative due to the large number of expressed genes and identified isoforms. Our study provides a very valuable basis for investigation of gene isoforms and regulation and factors contributing to male fertility.

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