Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) possess the capacity of self-renewal and differentiation, which are the basis of spermatogenesis. In maintenance of SSC homeostasis, intrinsic/extrinsic factors and various signaling pathways tightly control the fate of SSCs. Methyltransferase SETDB1 (Set domain, bifurcated 1) catalyzes histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9) trimethylation and represses gene expression. SETDB1 is required for maintaining the survival of spermatogonial stem cells in mice. However, the underlying molecular mechanism remains unclear. In the present study, we found that Setdb1 regulates PTEN/AKT/FOXO1 pathway to inhibit SSC apoptosis. Co-immunoprecipitation and reporter gene assay revealed that SETDB1 interacted and coordinated with AKT to regulate FOXO1 activity and expression of the downstream target genes Bim and Puma. Among the SETDB1-bound genes, the H3K9me3 levels on the promoter regions of Bim and Pten decreased in Setdb1-KD group; in contrast, H3K9me3 status on promoters of Bax and Puma remained unchanged. Therefore, SETDB1 was responsible for regulating the transcription activity of genes in the apoptotic pathway at least in part through modulating H3K9me3. This study replenishes the research on the epigenetic regulation of SSC survival, and provides a new insight for the future study of epigenetic regulation of spermatogenesis.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.