Differential expression profiles of conserved Snail transcription factors in the mouse testis

D. J. Micati, G. R. Hime, E. A. McLaughlin, H. E. Abud, K. L. Loveland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Snail transcription factors are key regulators of cellular transitions during embryonic development and tumorigenesis. The closely related SNAI1 and SNAI2 proteins induce epithelial–mesenchymal transitions (EMTs), acting predominantly as transcriptional repressors, while the functions of SNAI3 are unknown. An initial examination of Snai2-deficient mice provided evidence of deficient spermatogenesis. To address the hypothesis that Snail proteins are important for male fertility, this study provides the first comprehensive cellular expression profiles of all three mammalian Snail genes in the post-natal mouse testis. To evaluate Snail transcript expression profiles, droplet digital (dd) PCR and in situ hybridization were employed. Snai1, 2 and 3 transcripts are readily detected at 7, 14, 28 days post-partum (dpp) and 7 weeks (adult). Unique cellular expression was demonstrated for each by in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry using Western blot-validated antibodies. SNAI1 and SNAI2 are in the nucleus of the most mature germ cell types at post-natal ages 10, 15 and 26. SNAI3 is only detected from 15 dpp onwards and is localized in the Sertoli cell cytoplasm. In the adult testis, Snai1 and Snai2 transcripts are detected in spermatogonia and spermatocytes, while Snai3 is in both germ and Sertoli cells. SNAI1 protein is evident in nuclei of spermatogonia, spermatocytes, round spermatids and elongated spermatids (Stages IX–XII). SNAI2 is present in the nuclei of spermatogonia and spermatocytes, with a faint signal detected in round spermatids. SNAI3 was detected only in Sertoli cell cytoplasm, as in juvenile testes. Additionally, colocalization of SNAI1 and SNAI2 with previously identified key binding partners, LSD1 and PRC2 complex components, provides strong evidence that these important functional interactions are conserved during spermatogenesis to control gene activity. These distinct expression profiles suggest that each Snail family member has unique functions during spermatogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)362-373
Number of pages12
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


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