Novel role for a sterol response element binding protein in directing spermatogenic cell-specific gene expression

Hang Wang, Jovenal T. San Agustin, George B. Witman, Daniel L. Kilpatrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Sperm are highly specialized cells, and their formation requires the synthesis of a large number of unique mRNAs. However, little is known about the transcriptional mechanisms that direct male germ cell differentiation. Sterol response element binding protein 2gc (SREBP2gc) is a spermatogenic cell-enriched isoform of the ubiquitous transcription factor SREBP2, which in somatic cells is required for homeostatic regulation of cholesterol. SREBP2gc is selectively enriched in spermatocytes and spermatids, and, due to its novel structure, its synthesis is not subject to cholesterol feedback control. This suggested that SREBP2gc has unique cell- and stage-specific functions during spermatogenesis. Here, we demonstrate that this factor activates the promoter for the spermatogenesis-related gene proacrosin in a cell-specific manner. Multiple SREBP2gc response elements were identified within the 5′-flanking and proximal promoter regions of the proacrosin promoter. Mutating these elements greatly diminished in vivo expression of this promoter in spermatogenic cells of transgenic mice. These studies define a totally new function for an SREBP as a transactivator of male germ cell-specific gene expression. We propose that SREBP2gc is part of a cadre of spermatogenic cell-enriched isoforms of ubiquitously expressed transcriptional coregulators that were specifically adapted in concert to direct differentiation of the male germ cell lineage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10681-10688
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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