Esx1 dosage impacts reproductive fitness: Effects on viability and fertility

Laurel E Fohn, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Numerous genes expressed in placenta or testis localize to the X-chromosome. Both tissues undergo specialized X-chromosome inactivation (imprinted paternal inactivation in placenta and MSCI in testicular germ cells). When the X-chromosome is duplicated or improperly inactivated, defects in placentation, growth and spermatogenesis are noted, suggesting tight control of X-chromosome gene dosage is important for reproduction. Esx1 is a mouse homeobox gene on the X-chromosome with expression limited to extraembryonic tissues and testicular germ cells. Here, we examine the effects of increased and decreased Esx1 dosage on placental and testicular development, the role of genetic background on Esx1 function and characterize the human orthologue of Esx1. Previously, by targeted deletion, Esx1 was shown to be an X-chromosome imprinted regulator of placental development and fetal growth. We show C57Bl6-congenic Esx1 mutants display a more severe phenotype with decreased viability and that the 129 genetic background contains dominant modifier genes that enhance Esx1 mutant survival. Varying Esx1 dosage impacts testicular germ cell development. Esx1 hemizygous null mice are fertile, but we show their testes are two-thirds normal size. To examine the effect of increased Esx1 dosage, Esx1 BAC transgenic mice were generated. Increased Esx1 dosage results in dramatic deficits in testicular germ cell development, leading to sterility and testes one-fourth normal size. We show germ cell loss occurs through apoptosis, begins between postnatal day 6 and 10, and that no spermatocytes complete meiosis. Interestingly, increased Esx1 dosage in testes mimics germ cell loss seen in Klinefelter's (XXY) mice and humans and may represent a molecular mechanism for the infertility characteristic of this syndrome. Esx1 dosage impacts reproductive fitness when maternally transmitted. Three transgenic founder females were unable to transmit the transgene to live offspring, but did produce transgenic pups at earlier stages. Additionally, one line of Esx1 BAC transgenic mice demonstrated decreased embryo size and fitness when the transgene is inherited compared to wild type littermates. It is possible that Esx1 plays a role in human disorders of pregnancy, growth and spermatogenesis. Therefore, we cloned and characterized ESX1L (human Esx1), and show it is expressed in human testis and placenta.

Subject Area

Genetics|Molecular biology|Physiology

Recommended Citation

Fohn, Laurel E, "Esx1 dosage impacts reproductive fitness: Effects on viability and fertility" (2005). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3168435.