Background: The gonads are responsible for the production of germ cells through both mitosis and meiosis. Skp2 is the receptor subunit of an SCF-type ubiquitin ligase and is a major regulator of the progression of cells into S phase of the cell cycle, which it promotes by mediating the ubiquitin-dependent degradation of p27, an inhibitor of cell proliferation. However, the role of the Skp2-p27 pathway in germ cell development remains elusive. Results: We now show that disruption of Skp2 in mice results in a marked impairment in the fertility of males, with the phenotypes resembling Sertoli cell-only syndrome in men. Testes of Skp2-/- mice manifested pronounced germ cell hypoplasia accompanied by massive apoptosis in spermatogenic cells. Flow cytometry revealed an increased prevalence of polyploidy in spermatozoa, suggesting that the aneuploidy of these cells is responsible for the induction of apoptosis. Disruption of the p27 gene of Skp2-/- mice restored germ cell development, indicating that the testicular hypoplasia of Skp2-/- animals is attributable to the antiproliferative effect of p27 accumulation. Conclusion: Our results thus suggest that compromised cell cycle progression caused by the accumulation of p27 results in aneuploidy and the induction of apoptosis in gonadal cells of Skp2-/- mice. The consequent reduction in the number of mature gametes accounts for the decreased fertility of these animals. These findings reinforce the importance of the Skp2-p27 pathway in cell cycle regulation and in germ cell development.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology