Early in vitro cell culture studies suggested that testicular orphan nuclear receptor 2 (TR2), a member of the nuclear receptor superfamily, may play important roles in the control of several pathways including retinoic acids, vitamin D, thyroid hormones, and ciliary neurotrophic factor. Here we report the surprising results showing that mice lacking TR2 are viable and have no serious developmental defects. Male mice lacking TR2 have functional testes, including normal sperm number and motility, and both male and female mice lacking TR2 are fertile. In heterozygous TR2(+/-) male mice we found that beta-galactosidase, the indicator of TR2 protein expression, was first detected at the age of 3 weeks and its expression pattern was restricted mainly in the spermatocytes and round spermatids. These protein expression patterns were further confirmed with Northern blot analysis of TR2 mRNA expression. Together, results from TR2-knockout mice suggest that TR2 may not play essential roles in spermatogenesis and normal testis development, function, and maintenance. Alternatively, the roles of TR2 may be redundant and could be played by other close members of the nuclear receptor superfamily such as testicular orphan receptor 4 (TR4) or unidentified orphan receptors that share many similar functions with TR2. Further studies with double knockouts of both orphan nuclear receptors, TR2 and TR4, may reveal their real physiological roles.
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