Unraveling transcriptome dynamics in human spermatogenesis

Sabrina Z. Jan, Tinke L. Vormer, Aldo Jongejan, Michael D. Röling, Sherman J. Silber, Dirk G. de Rooij, Geert Hamer, Sjoerd Repping, Ans M. M. van Pelt

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124 Citations (Scopus)


Spermatogenesis is a dynamic developmental process that includes stem cell proliferation and differentiation, meiotic cell divisions and extreme chromatin condensation. Although studied in mice, the molecular control of human spermatogenesis is largely unknown. Here, we developed a protocol that enables next-generation sequencing of RNA obtained from pools of 500 individually laser-capture microdissected cells of specific germ cell subtypes from fixed human testis samples. Transcriptomic analyses of these successive germ cell subtypes reveals dynamic transcription of over 4000 genes during human spermatogenesis. At the same time, many of the genes encoding for well-established meiotic and post-meiotic proteins are already present in the pre-meiotic phase. Furthermore, we found significant cell type-specific expression of post-transcriptional regulators, including expression of 110 RNA-binding proteins and 137 long non-coding RNAs, most of them previously not linked to spermatogenesis. Together, these data suggest that the transcriptome of precursor cells already contains the genes necessary for cellular differentiation and that timely translation controlled by post-transcriptional regulators is crucial for normal development. These established transcriptomes provide a reference catalog for further detailed studies on human spermatogenesis and spermatogenic failure
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3659-3673
JournalDevelopment (Cambridge, England)
Issue number20
Early online date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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