Deletion of the Parkin coregulated gene causes male sterility in the quaking(viable) mouse mutant.
Quaking(viable) (qk(v)) is a recessive neurological mouse mutation with severe dysmyelination of the CNS and spermiogenesis failure. The molecular lesion in the qk(v) mutant is a deletion of approximately 1 Mb on mouse chromosome 17 that alters the expression of the qk gene in oligodendrocytes. Complementation analysis between the qk(v) mutation and qk mutant alleles generated through chemical mutagenesis showed that the male sterility is a distinctive feature of the qk(v) allele. This observation suggested that the sperm differentiation defect in qk(v) is due to the deletion of a gene(s) distinct from qk. Here, we demonstrate that the deletion of Pacrg is the cause of male sterility in the qk(v) mutant. Pacrg is the mouse homologue of the human PARKIN-coregulated gene (PACRG), which encodes for a protein whose biochemical function remains unclear. We show that Pacrg is highly expressed in the testes in both mice and humans. In addition, the expression pattern of Pacrg during spermiogenesis suggests that it plays a role in sperm differentiation. In support of this hypothesis, we show that transgenic expression of Pacrg in testes restores spermiogenesis and fertility in qk(v) males. This finding provides the first in vivo evidence, to our knowledge, for the function of Pacrg in a model organism. Immunolocalization experiments on isolated spermatozoa show that the Pacrg protein is present in mature sperm. Remarkably, the mammalian Pacrg protein shares significant sequence similarities with gene products from flagellated protozoans, suggesting that Pacrg may be necessary for proper flagellar formation in many organisms.