We have cloned and characterized the expression, during spermatogenesis, of three novel zinc finger genes (Zfp94, Zfp95, Zfp96). Analysis of the deduced protein sequences reveals that all three molecules belong to the LeR family (leucine-rich zinc fingers) and that ZFP95 contains a domain homologous to the Kruppel-associated box. All three genes were found expressed at high levels in testis among other tissues, but testis-specific transcripts were observed for Zfp95 and Zfp96. Northern blot analyses of the testis-specific transcripts of Zfp95 and Zfp96 were performed using whole testis RNA as well as RNA isolated from enriched populations of specific spermatogenic cell types. The testis-specific transcript of Zfp95 showed the highest expression in pachytene spermatocytes, while that of Zfp96 was highly expressed in pachytene spermatocytes, in round spermatids and residual bodies. Northern blot analysis of RNA from the testis of mice carrying the atrichosis mutation further validated these expression patterns. In particular, the testis-specific transcripts of Zfp95 and Zfp96 were greatly reduced in heterozygous, and completely absent in homozygous testis RNA from atrichosis mutant mice, further defining the germ cell specificity of these transcripts.
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