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Molecular Biology - Physiology - Urology

Transient Protection from Heat-Stress Induced Apoptotic Stimulation by Metastasis-Associated Protein 1 in Pachytene Spermatocytes
Published: Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Author: Wei Li et al.

by Wei Li, Zhi-qun Wu, Jie Zhao, Sheng-jie Guo, Zhen Li, Xiao Feng, Li Ma, Jin-shan Zhang, Xin-ping Liu, Yuan-qiang Zhang


Deregulated thermal factors have been frequently implicated in the pathogenesis of male infertility, but the molecular basis through which certain responses are directed remain largely unknown. We previously reported that overexpression of exogenous Metastasis-associated protein 1 (MTA1) protects spermatogenic tumor cells GC-2spd (ts) against heat-induced apoptosis. To further dissect the underlying mechanism, we addressed here the fine coordination between MTA1 and p53 in pachytene spermatocytes upon hyperthermal stimulation.

Methodology/Principal Findings

High level of MTA1 expression sustained for 1.5 h in primary spermatocytes after heat stress before a notable decrease was detected conversely correlated to the gradual increase of acetylation status of p53 and of p21 level. Knockdown of the endogenous MTA1 in GC-2spd (ts) elevated the acetylation of p53 by diminishing the recruitment of HDAC2 and thereafter led to a dramatic increase of apoptosis after heat treatment. Consistent with this, in vivo interference of MTA1 expression in the testes of C57BL/6 mice also urged an impairment of the differentiation of spermatocytes and a disruption of Sertoli cell function due to the elevated apoptotic rate after heat stress. Finally, attenuated expression of MTA1 of pachytene spermatocytes was observed in arrested testes (at the round spermatid level) of human varicocele patients.


These data underscore a transient protective effect of this histone modifier in primary spermatocytes against heat-stress, which may operate as a negative coregulator of p53 in maintenance of apoptotic balance during early phase after hyperthermal stress.