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J Assist Reprod Genet. 2018 Feb;35(2):229-236. doi: 10.1007/s10815-017-1066-4. Epub 2017 Nov 20.

Role of WNT signaling in epididymal sperm maturation.

Author information

1
The State Key Laboratory of Stem Cell and Reproductive Biology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100101, China.
2
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100049, China.
3
The State Key Laboratory of Stem Cell and Reproductive Biology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100101, China. liuyx@ioz.ac.cn.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Spermatozoa maturation, a process required for spermatozoa to acquire progressive motility and the ability to fertilize ova, primarily occurs in the caput and corpus of the epididymis. Despite considerable efforts, the factor(s) promoting epididymal sperm maturation remains unclear. Recently, WNT signaling has been implicated in epididymal sperm maturation.

METHODS:

To further investigate WNT signaling function in epididymal sperm maturation, we generated Wntless conditional knockout mice (Wls cKO), Wls flox/flox ; Lcn5-Cre.

RESULTS:

In these mice, WNTLESS (WLS), a conserved membrane protein required for all WNT protein secretion, was specifically disrupted in the principal cells of the caput epididymidis. Immunoblot analysis showed that WLS was significantly reduced in the caput epididymidis of Wls cKO mice. In the caput epididymidis of Wls cKO mice, WNT 10A and WNT 2b, which are typically secreted by the principal cells of the caput epididymis, were not secreted. Interestingly, sperm motility analysis showed that the WLS deficiency in the caput epididymidis had no effect on sperm motility. Moreover, fertility tests showed that Wls cKO male mice had normal fertility.

CONCLUSION:

These results indicate that the disruption of WLS in principal cells of the caput epididymidis inhibits WNT protein secretion but has no effect on sperm motility and male fertility, suggesting that WNT signaling in the caput epididymidis may be dispensable for epididymal sperm maturation in mice.

KEYWORDS:

Epididymis; Mice; Sperm maturation; WNT signaling; WNTLESS

PMID:
29152689
PMCID:
PMC5845038
DOI:
10.1007/s10815-017-1066-4
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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