Regulatory complexity revealed by integrated cytological and RNA-seq analyses of meiotic substages in mouse spermatocytes.

Document Type


Publication Date


JAX Source

BMC Genomics 2016 Aug 12; 17(1):628.




GM99640, CA34196


BACKGROUND: The continuous and non-synchronous nature of postnatal male germ-cell development has impeded stage-specific resolution of molecular events of mammalian meiotic prophase in the testis. Here the juvenile onset of spermatogenesis in mice is analyzed by combining cytological and transcriptomic data in a novel computational analysis that allows decomposition of the transcriptional programs of spermatogonia and meiotic prophase substages.

RESULTS: Germ cells from testes of individual mice were obtained at two-day intervals from 8 to 18 days post-partum (dpp), prepared as surface-spread chromatin and immunolabeled for meiotic stage-specific protein markers (STRA8, SYCP3, phosphorylated H2AFX, and HISTH1T). Eight stages were discriminated cytologically by combinatorial antibody labeling, and RNA-seq was performed on the same samples. Independent principal component analyses of cytological and transcriptomic data yielded similar patterns for both data types, providing strong evidence for substage-specific gene expression signatures. A novel permutation-based maximum covariance analysis (PMCA) was developed to map co-expressed transcripts to one or more of the eight meiotic prophase substages, thereby linking distinct molecular programs to cytologically defined cell states. Expression of meiosis-specific genes is not substage-limited, suggesting regulation of substage transitions at other levels.

CONCLUSIONS: This integrated analysis provides a general method for resolving complex cell populations. Here it revealed not only features of meiotic substage-specific gene expression, but also a network of substage-specific transcription factors and relationships to potential target genes.

BMC Genomics 2016 Aug 12; 17(1):628.