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Dev Biol. 1996 Nov 25;180(1):336-43.

Transcriptional analysis of the candidate spermatogenesis gene Ube1y and of the closely related Ube1x shows that they are coexpressed in spermatogonia and spermatids but are repressed in pachytene spermatocytes.

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Laboratory of Developmental Genetics, National Institute for Medical Research, London, United Kingdom.


Ube1y is a Y-linked gene transcribed in the testis, which maps to a region of the mouse Y required for normal spermatogonial proliferation. Ube1y, together with a ubiquitously expressed homologue on the X chromosome (Ube1x), encodes ubiquitin-activating enzyme E1, an enzyme essential for eukaryotic cell proliferation. Ube1y is thus a strong candidate for the Y function in spermatogonial proliferation. Using probes specific for the two genes, we have used Northern analysis and RNase protection to assess transcript levels throughout testis development and, by using germ cell-deficient XXSxr(a) testes and purified cell fractions, we have defined the testicular cell types in which transcription occurs. Ube1y transcripts are already detectable in the fetal testis at 12.5 dpc, with higher levels at 14.5 dpc and then falling to low levels by the time of birth. Postnatally levels rise sharply, peaking at 10 dpp. Analysis of XXSxr(a) testes indicates that the bulk of the Ube1y transcription is in germ cells. The analysis of purified cell fractions shows that X- and Y-encoded transcripts are present in A spermatogonia, both are at very low levels (or perhaps absent) in pachytene spermatocytes and then return to high levels in round spermatids. The reactivation of transcription in round spermatids implies a requirement for the ubiquitination pathway at this time. The presence of Ube1x transcripts in A spermatogonia raises the question as to why Ube1y transcripts are required. This question is discussed in relation to the spermatogenic failure in XSxr(b)O mice which are deleted for Ube1y and it is argued that Ube1y serves to increase UBE1 production at a time of high demand. Ube1y transcripts were also detected in XXY and XY ovaries.

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