Spermiogenesis deficiency and germ-cell apoptosis in CREM-mutant mice

Nature. 1996 Mar 14;380(6570):159-62. doi: 10.1038/380159a0.


Spermiogenesis is a complex process by which postmeiotic male germ cells differentiate into mature spermatozoa. This process involves remarkable structural and biochemical changes including nuclear DNA compaction and acrosome formation. Transcription activator CREM (cyclic AMP-responsive element modulator) is highly expressed in postmeiotic cells, and CREM may be responsible for the activation of several haploid germ cell-specific genes involved in the structuring of the spermatozoon. The specific role of CREM in spermiogenesis was addressed using CREM-mutant mice generated by homologous recombination. Analysis of the seminiferous epithelium in mutant male mice reveals postmeiotic arrest at the first step of spermiogenesis. Late spermatids are completely absent, and there is a significant increase in apoptotic germ cells. We show that CREM deficiency results in the lack of postmeiotic cell-specific gene expression. The complete lack of spermatozoa in the mutant mice is reminiscent of cases of human infertility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Cyclic AMP Response Element Modulator
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fertility / genetics
  • Fertility / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins*
  • Sperm Count
  • Spermatogenesis*
  • Spermatozoa / cytology*
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Cyclic AMP Response Element Modulator