Sohlh1 is essential for spermatogonial differentiation

Dev Biol. 2006 Jun 1;294(1):161-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2006.02.027. Epub 2006 Mar 29.


Spermatogonia are adult germline stem cells that can both self-renew and differentiate into spermatocytes. Little is known about factors necessary for spermatogonial differentiation. We identified a novel germ-cell-specific transcription factor that we named Sohlh1 (testis and ovary expressed basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor). In males, Sohlh1 is preferentially expressed in prespermatogonia and Type A spermatogonia. Loss of Sohlh1 causes infertility by disrupting spermatogonial differentiation into spermatocytes. Seven-day-old testes without Sohlh1 still express the testis-specific transcription factors Etv5, Taf4b, Zfp148, and Plzf, overexpress a novel Tohlh2 bHLH transcription factor, but lack LIM homeobox gene Lhx8 and show reduced expression of Ngn3. Sohlh1 represents the first testis-specific bHLH transcription factor that is essential for spermatogonial differentiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / physiology*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Male
  • Mice
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Spermatocytes / cytology
  • Spermatogenesis
  • Spermatogonia / cytology*
  • Testis / metabolism
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / physiology*


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Sohlh1 protein, mouse
  • Transcription Factors