CRISPR/Cas9-based genome editing in mice uncovers 13 testis- or epididymis-enriched genes individually dispensable for male reproduction†

Biol Reprod. 2020 Aug 4;103(2):183-194. doi: 10.1093/biolre/ioaa083.


Developing a safe and effective male contraceptive remains a challenge in the field of medical science. Molecules that selectively target the male reproductive tract and whose targets are indispensable for male reproductive function serve among the best candidates for a novel non-hormonal male contraceptive method. To determine the function of these genes in vivo, mutant mice carrying disrupted testis- or epididymis-enriched genes were generated by zygote microinjection or electroporation of the CRISPR/Cas9 components. Male fecundity was determined by consecutively pairing knockout males with wild-type females and comparing the fecundity of wild-type controls. Phenotypic analyses of testis appearance and weight, testis and epididymis histology, and sperm movement were further carried out to examine any potential spermatogenic or sperm maturation defect in mutant males. In this study, we uncovered 13 testis- or epididymis-enriched evolutionarily conserved genes that are individually dispensable for male fertility in mice. Owing to their dispensable nature, it is not feasible to use these targets for the development of a male contraceptive.

Keywords: CRISPR/Cas9; epididymis; knockout mice; male contraceptive; male infertility; testis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CRISPR-Cas Systems
  • Epididymis / metabolism*
  • Gene Editing
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Phylogeny
  • Reproduction / genetics*
  • Sperm Motility / genetics
  • Spermatogenesis / genetics
  • Testis / metabolism*