Regulation of male germ cell cycle arrest and differentiation by DND1 is modulated by genetic background

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats


Citation Stats


Human germ cell tumors show a strong sensitivity to genetic background similar to Dnd1(Ter/Ter) mutant mice, where testicular teratomas arise only on the 129/SvJ genetic background. The introduction of the Bax mutation onto mixed background Dnd1(Ter/Ter) mutants, where teratomas do not typically develop, resulted in a high incidence of teratomas. However, when Dnd1(Ter/Ter); Bax(-/-) double mutants were backcrossed to C57BL/6J, no tumors arose. Dnd1(Ter/Ter) germ cells show a strong downregulation of male differentiation genes including Nanos2. In susceptible strains, where teratomas initiate around E15.5-E17.5, many mutant germ cells fail to enter mitotic arrest in G0 and do not downregulate the pluripotency markers NANOG, SOX2 and OCT4. We show that DND1 directly binds a group of transcripts that encode negative regulators of the cell cycle, including p27(Kip1) and p21(Cip1). P27(Kip1) and P21(Cip1) protein are both significantly decreased in Dnd1(Ter/Ter) germ cells on all strain backgrounds tested, strongly suggesting that DND1 regulates mitotic arrest in male germ cells through translational regulation of cell cycle genes. Nonetheless, in C57BL/6J mutants, germ cells arrest prior to M-phase of the cell cycle and downregulate NANOG, SOX2 and OCT4. Consistent with their ability to rescue cell cycle arrest, C57BL/6J germ cells overexpress negative regulators of the cell cycle relative to 129/SvJ. This work suggests that reprogramming of pluripotency in germ cells and prevention of tumor formation requires cell cycle arrest, and that differences in the balance of cell cycle regulators between 129/SvJ and C57BL/6 might underlie differences in tumor susceptibility.





Cook,Matthew S.;Munger,Steven C.;Nadeau,Joseph H.;Capel,Blanche. 2011. Regulation of male germ cell cycle arrest and differentiation by DND1 is modulated by genetic background. Development 138(1): 23-32.

Published Version (Please cite this version)




Blanche Capel

James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of Cell Biology

In mammals, the primary step in male sex determination is the initiation of testis development in the bipotential gonad primordium. This step depends on the Y-linked male sex-determining gene, Sry. Expression of Sry in the XY gonad, or as a transgene in an XX gonad, leads to the differentiation of Sertoli cells. Failures in Sertoli cell differentiation in the XY gonad result in sex reversal and ovary formation. In addition to Sertoli cell differentiation, we are studying the signaling pathways between Sry expression and early steps in testis organogenesis using mouse as a model system. Using genetic and cell biology approaches, we determined the origin of several key cell types of the testis. We also identified two pathways, proliferation and cell migration, that are controlled by Sry and lead to the architectural patterning of the testis. Currently we are investigating the novel hypothesis that reciprocal signals between the vasculature and Sertoli cells are involved in patterning testis cords. Testis organogenesis is an ideal model system to study the integration of vasculature during development of organ structure. In addition, we are investigating critical signals between Sertoli cells and germ cells during testis cord formation. Defects in these signals result in teratomas and gonadal blastomas, common neoplasias in young boys. Experimental approaches include the use of molecular and biochemical techniques, mutant mice, transgenics, organ culture assays, differential screens, immunocytochemistry imaging techniques, and classic mouse genetics.

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.