Genetic understanding of male-factor infertility requires knowledge of gene expression patterns associated with normal germ cell differentiation. The mouse is one of the best models of mammalian fertility due to its well-characterized genetics and the existence of many infertile mutants both naturally occurring and experimentally induced. We used cDNA microarrays firstly to investigate normal gene expression in the wild-type (wt) testis and secondly to gain a better insight into the effect of the disruption of the Dazl gene on spermatogenesis. We constructed a cDNA microarray from a subtracted and normalized adult testis library and focused on six developmental time-points during the initial synchronous wave of spermatogenesis. The results suggest that in the wild-type testis, 89.5% of genes on our chip change expression dramatically during the time-course. To identify patterns in the gene-expression data, a k-means clustering algorithm and principal component analysis were used. In the Dazl knockout testes, the majority of genes remain at baseline levels of expression, because absence of Dazl has a severe effect on cell-types present in the testis. Although in the prepubescent Dazl-null mice the final point reached in germ cell development is the leptotene-zygotene stage, the microarray results suggest that lack of Dazl expression has a detectable effect on the mRNA complement of germ cells as early as day 5 when only type A spermatogonia are present. Mol. Reprod. Dev. 67: 26-54, 2004.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.