Specialized rules of gene transcription in male germ cells: the CREM paradigm

Int J Androl. 2004 Dec;27(6):322-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2605.2004.00494.x.


Specialized transcription complexes that coordinate the differentiation programme of spermatogenesis have been found in germ cells, which display specific differences in the components of the general transcription machinery. The TATA-binding protein family and its associated cofactors, for example, show upregulated expression in testis. In this physiological context, transcriptional control mediated by the activator cAMP response element modulator (CREM) represents an established paradigm. Somatic cell activation by CREM requires its phosphorylation at a unique regulatory site (Ser117) and subsequent interaction with the ubiquitous coactivator CREB-binding protein. In testis, CREM transcriptional activity is controlled through interaction with a tissue-specific partner, activator of CREM in the testis (ACT), which confers a powerful, phosphorylation-independent activation capacity. The function of ACT was found to be regulated by the testis-specific kinesin KIF17b. Here we discuss some aspects of the testis-specific transcription machinery, whose function is essential for the process of spermatogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatin / physiology
  • Cyclic AMP Response Element Modulator
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Spermatogenesis
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism
  • Spermatozoa / physiology*
  • Transcription Factors / physiology*
  • Transcription, Genetic / physiology*


  • Chromatin
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Cyclic AMP Response Element Modulator