Epididymal small non-coding RNA studies: progress over the past decade

Andrology. 2019 Sep;7(5):681-689. doi: 10.1111/andr.12639. Epub 2019 May 1.


Background: Small non-coding RNAs (sncRNAs) accomplish a huge variety of biological functions. Over the past decade, we have witnessed the substantial progress in the epididymal sncRNA studies. In the Epididymis 7, we had the true privilege of having a whole session to share our findings and exchange ideas on the epididymal sncRNA studies.

Objectives: This mini-review attempts to provide an overview of what is known about the sncRNAs in the mammalian epididymis and discuss the future directions in this field.

Methods: We surveyed literature regarding the sncRNA studies in the mammalian epididymis, and integrated some of our unpublished findings as well. We focus on the progress in methodology and the advances in our understanding of the expression and functions of epididymal sncRNAs.

Results and discussion: The applications of high-throughput approaches have made great contributions in the discovery of new sncRNA species and profiling their dynamics in the epithelial cells, the passing spermatozoa, and the luminal environment. The diverse classes of epididymal sncRNAs exert important biological functions from the in situ regulation of epididymal gene expression to the epigenetic inheritance in the offspring.

Conclusion: Although still in its infancy, we believe that the research on epididymal sncRNAs will not only lead to a better understanding of their physiological and pathological functions, but also contribute to the whole landscape of the RNA field.

Keywords: epididymis; small non-coding RNA; spermatozoa.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epididymis / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • RNA, Small Untranslated / genetics*
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism*


  • RNA, Small Untranslated