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Dicer1 ablation in the mouse epididymis causes dedifferentiation of the epithelium and imbalance in sex steroid signaling.

BACKGROUND: The postnatal development of the epididymis is a complex process that results in a highly differentiated epithelium, divided into several segments. Recent studies indicate a role for RNA interference (RNAi) in the development of the epididymis, however, the actual requirement for RNAi has remained elusive. Here, we present the first evidence of a direct need for RNAi in the differentiation of the epididymal epithelium. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: By utilizing the Cre-LoxP system we have generated a conditional knock-out of Dicer1 in the two most proximal segments of the mouse epididymis. Recombination of Dicer1, catalyzed by Defb41(iCre/wt), took place before puberty, starting from 12 days postpartum. Shortly thereafter, downregulation of the expression of two genes specific for the most proximal epididymis (lipocalin 8 and cystatin 8) was observed. Following this, segment development continued until week 5 at which age the epithelium started to regress back to an undifferentiated state. The dedifferentiated epithelium also showed an increase in estrogen receptor 1 expression while the expression of androgen receptor and its target genes; glutathione peroxidase 5, lipocalin 5 and cysteine-rich secretory protein 1 was downregulated, indicating imbalanced sex steroid signaling. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: At the time of the final epididymal development, Dicer1 acts as a regulator of signaling pathways essential for maintaining epithelial cell differentiation.

Pubmed ID: 22701646


  • Bj√∂rkgren I
  • Saastamoinen L
  • Krutskikh A
  • Huhtaniemi I
  • Poutanen M
  • Sipil√§ P


PloS one

Publication Data

June 15, 2012

Associated Grants


Mesh Terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Dedifferentiation
  • Cystatins
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases
  • Epididymis
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Histological Techniques
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lipocalins
  • Male
  • Mice
  • RNA Interference
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Ribonuclease III
  • Signal Transduction
  • beta-Defensins