Function and regulation of the Pem homeobox gene in vivo

Chad Michael Wayne, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Pem, a member of the PEPP homeobox family, is expressed in somatic cells in male and female reproductive tissues. In the adult murine testis, Pem is specifically expressed in Sertoli cells, where it is restricted to stages IV–VIII of the seminiferous epithelial cycle. To identify Pem's function in Sertoli cells, transgenic mice were generated that express Pem in Sertoli cells during all stages of the seminiferous epithelial cycle. This resulted in an increase in double-strand DNA breaks in preleptotene spermatocytes and single-strand DNA breaks in elongating spermatids. My results suggest that Pem regulates Sertoli-cell genes that encode secreted or cell-surface proteins that serve to control premeiotic DNA replication, DNA repair, and/or chromatin remodeling in the adjacent germ cells. Three additional transgenic mouse containing varying lengths of the Pem male-specific promoter (Pp) were generated to identify the sequences responsible for regulating Pem expression in the testis and epididymis. My analysis suggests that there are at least two regulatory regions in the Pem Pp. In the testis, region II directs androgen-dependent expression specifically in Sertoli cells whereas region I fine-tunes stage-specific expression by acting as a negative regulator. In the epididymis, region II confers androgen-dependent, developmentally-regulated expression in the caput whereas region I prevents inappropriate expression in the corpus. I also report the identification and characterization of two human PEPP family members related to Pem that I have named hPEPP1 and hPEPP2. The hPEPP1 and hPEPP2 homeodomains are more closely related to PEPP subfamily homeodomains than to any other homeodomain subfamily. Both genes are localized to the specific region of the human X chromosome that shares synteny with the region on the murine X chromosome containing three PEPP homeobox genes, Pem, Psx-1, and Psx-2. hPEPP1 and hPEPP2 mRNA expression is restricted to the testis but is aberrantly expressed in tumor cells of different origins, analogous to the expression pattern of Pem but not of Psx-1 or Psx-2. Unlike all known PEPP members, neither hPEPP1 nor hPEPP2 are expressed in placenta, which suggests that the regulation of the PEPP family has undergone significant alteration since the split between hominids and rodents.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Anatomy & physiology|Animals

Recommended Citation

Wayne, Chad Michael, "Function and regulation of the Pem homeobox gene in vivo" (2002). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3046072.