Requirement of Notch 1 and its ligand jagged 2 expressions for spermatogenesis in rat and human testes

J Androl. Nov-Dec 2001;22(6):999-1011. doi: 10.1002/j.1939-4640.2001.tb03441.x.


It has already been demonstrated that the Notch signaling system is essential for gametogenesis in the adult germ line of Caenorhabditis elegans. However, the role of the Notch signaling system in mammalian spermatogenesis has not been well investigated. Recently, it has been revealed that this signaling system is expressed in the mammalian testis by showing coexpression of Jagged 2 and its receptor, Notch 1, is consistent with Notch 1 being a cognate receptor for Jagged 2 in the mammalian testis. Therefore, we investigated expressions of messenger RNAs of Notch 1 and Jagged 2 in the testicular tissues of developing Sprague-Dawley rats by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and Northern blot analysis, expressions of their proteins in the testicular tissues of developing rats, fertile human controls and infertile human patients with maturation arrest by immunohistochemistry, and effects of antibodies to this system by culturing rat testicular tissues with these antibodies. Transcripts of Notch 1 and Jagged 2 in the rat testis were positive throughout the examined period; these intensities became higher at day 13 after birth, coincidence with the formation of spermatocytes, and peaked at day 19 after birth. Expressions of Notch 1 and Jagged 2 were recognized at first in the perinuclear regions of spermatocytes in the rat testis as a round structure at day 19 after birth and thereafter in further differentiated germ cells as meiosis proceeded. In the adult rat testis, positive staining was present as a round structure in spermatocytes, as a typical horseshoe-shaped structure in round spermatids, and as a covering structure spreading around the nucleus of elongated spermatids, but not in spermatozoa. Notch 1 was recognized in the vacuole of the Golgi complex of primary spermatocytes and the acrosome of elongated spermatids with electron microscopy. When rat testicular tissues were cultured with anti-Notch 1 or anti-Jagged 2 antibody, round and elongated spermatids decreased after 5 and 7 days of culture, respectively, and disappeared at around 9 and 12 days of culture, respectively, with shrinkage of the diameter of seminiferous tubules. Spermatocytes, however, increased after 11 days of culture. Expressions of both proteins have been detected in the testicular tissues of human fertile controls as in the rat testicular tissues. However, Notch 1 expression has not been detected in testicular tissues of 11 patients with maturation arrest, whereas Jagged 2 expression has been recognized in all of them. In conclusion, the results presented in this study offer the possibility that Notch 1/Jagged 2 signaling system plays an important role for male germ cells to differentiate or at least to survive in the rat testis and fails to express in the testis of spermatogenic maturation arrest patients.

MeSH terms

  • Actins / genetics
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Antibodies / pharmacology
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Jagged-2 Protein
  • Ligands
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Morphogenesis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptor, Notch1
  • Receptors, Cell Surface*
  • Seminiferous Tubules / growth & development
  • Seminiferous Tubules / physiology
  • Spermatogenesis / genetics*
  • Testis / growth & development*
  • Transcription Factors*
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Actins
  • Antibodies
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • JAG2 protein, human
  • Jag2 protein, rat
  • Jagged-2 Protein
  • Ligands
  • Membrane Proteins
  • NOTCH1 protein, human
  • Notch1 protein, rat
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptor, Notch1
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Transcription Factors