Background: Epispadias is the mildest phenotype of the human bladder exstrophy-epispadias complex (BEEC), and presents with varying degrees of severity. This urogenital birth defect results from a disturbance in the septation process, during which separate urogenital and anorectal components are formed through division of the cloaca. This process is reported to be influenced by androgen signaling. The human PARM1 gene encodes the prostate androgen-regulated mucin-like protein 1, which is expressed in heart, kidney, and placenta.
Methods: We performed whole mount in situ hybridization analysis of Parm1 expression in mouse embryos between gestational days (GD) 9.5 and 12.5, which are equivalent to human gestational weeks 4-6. Since the spatio-temporal localization of Parm1 corresponded to tissues which are affected in human epispadias, we sequenced PARM1 in 24 affected patients.
Results: We found Parm1 specifically expressed in the region of the developing cloaca, the umbilical cord, bladder anlage, and the urethral component of the genital tubercle. Additionally, Parm1 expression was detected in the muscle progenitor cells of the somites and head mesenchyme. PARM1 gene analysis revealed no alterations in the coding region of any of the investigated patients.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that PARM1 does not play a major role in the development of human epispadias. However, we cannot rule out the possibility that a larger sample size would enable detection of rare mutations in this gene.
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