Sertoli cell androgen receptor DNA binding domain is essential for the completion of spermatogenesis

Endocrinology. 2009 Oct;150(10):4755-65. doi: 10.1210/en.2009-0416. Epub 2009 Jul 2.


We examined the biological importance of Sertoli cell androgen receptor (AR) genomic interaction, using a Cre-loxP approach to selectively disrupt the AR DNA-binding domain (AR-DBD). Sertoli cell (SC)-specific transgenic Abpa or AMH promoters targeted Cre-mediated inframe excision of mouse Ar exon-3, encoding the AR-DBD second zinc-finger (ZF2), generating SC-specific mutant AR(DeltaZF2) lines designated Abp.SCAR(DeltaZF2) and AMH.SCAR(DeltaZF2), respectively. Both SCAR(DeltaZF2) lines produced infertile males exhibiting spermatogenic arrest, despite normal SC numbers and immunolocalized SC nuclear AR. Adult homozygous TgCre((+/+)) SCAR(DeltaZF2) or double-TgCre((+/-)) Abp/AMH.SCAR(DeltaZF2) males displayed equivalent small testes 30% of normal size, representing maximal Cre-loxP-disruption of Sertoli AR function. Hemizygous TgCre((+/-)) vs. homozygous TgCre((+/+)) Abp.SCAR(DeltaZF2) testes were larger (47% normal size) with more postmeiotic development, indicating dose-dependent Cre-mediated disruption of SC-specific AR-DBD activity. SCAR(DeltaZF2) males exhibited adult Leydig cell hypertrophy but normal serum testosterone levels. Sertoli cell-specific Rhox5 and Spinlw1 transcription, regulated by divergent or classical androgen-response elements, respectively, were both decreased in postnatal SCAR(DeltaZF2) vs. control testes, demonstrating SC-specific AR-DBD function as early as postnatal d 5. However, Rhox5 expression declined dose-dependently, whereas Spinlw1 expression increased, in adult TgCre((+/-)) and TgCre((+/+)) SCAR(DeltaZF2) testes, revealing differential temporal control for distinct AR-regulated transcripts. Androgen-repressed Ngfr was not up-regulated in SCAR(DeltaZF2) testes, suggesting maintenance of a nonclassical mechanism independent of AR-DBD. Thus, our unique SCAR(DeltaZF2) paradigm provided dose-dependent Cre-mediated disruption of testicular development and gene expression revealing that the AR-DBD is essential for SC function and postmeiotic spermatogenesis. Nongenomic or AR-DBD-independent pathways appear secondary or play no major independent role in SC function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion
  • DNA / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Organ Size
  • Phenotype
  • Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs
  • Receptors, Androgen / metabolism*
  • Sertoli Cells / metabolism*
  • Spermatogenesis*
  • Testis / anatomy & histology
  • Transgenes


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • DNA