miRNA Expression Profiles of Mouse Round Spermatids in GRTH/DDX25-Mediated Spermiogenesis: mRNA-miRNA Network Analysis

Cells. 2023 Feb 27;12(5):756. doi: 10.3390/cells12050756.


GRTH/DDX25 is a testis-specific DEAD-box family of RNA helicase, which plays an essential role in spermatogenesis and male fertility. There are two forms of GRTH, a 56 kDa non-phosphorylated form and a 61 kDa phosphorylated form (pGRTH). GRTH-KO and GRTH Knock-In (KI) mice with R242H mutation (lack pGRTH) are sterile with a spermatogenic arrest at step 8 of spermiogenesis due to failure of round spermatids (RS) to elongate. We performed mRNA-seq and miRNA-seq analysis on RS of WT, KI, and KO to identify crucial microRNAs (miRNAs) and mRNAs during RS development by establishing a miRNA-mRNA network. We identified increased levels of miRNAs such as miR146, miR122a, miR26a, miR27a, miR150, miR196a, and miR328 that are relevant to spermatogenesis. mRNA-miRNA target analysis on these DE-miRNAs and DE-mRNAs revealed miRNA target genes involved in ubiquitination process (Ube2k, Rnf138, Spata3), RS differentiation, and chromatin remodeling/compaction (Tnp1/2, Prm1/2/3, Tssk3/6), reversible protein phosphorylation (Pim1, Hipk1, Csnk1g2, Prkcq, Ppp2r5a), and acrosome stability (Pdzd8). Post-transcriptional and translational regulation of some of these germ-cell-specific mRNAs by miRNA-regulated translation arrest and/or decay may lead to spermatogenic arrest in KO and KI mice. Our studies demonstrate the importance of pGRTH in the chromatin compaction and remodeling process, which mediates the differentiation of RS into elongated spermatids through miRNA-mRNA interactions.

Keywords: GRTH; miRNAs; miRNA–mRNA network analysis; round spermatids; spermatogenesis; transcriptome analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • MicroRNAs* / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Spermatids* / metabolism
  • Spermatogenesis / genetics
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / metabolism


  • RNA, Messenger
  • MicroRNAs
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases
  • Ddx25 protein, mouse
  • RNF138 protein, mouse
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases