Bone morphogenetic protein 8A plays a role in the maintenance of spermatogenesis and the integrity of the epididymis.
The murine Bmp8a and Bmp8b genes are tightly linked on mouse chromosome 4 and have similar expression during reproduction. Previous studies have shown that targeted mutagenesis of Bmp8b causes male infertility due to germ cell degeneration. To investigate the function of Bmp8a, we have inactivated the gene by homologous recombination. Heterozygous and homozygous Bmp8a mutants reveal normal embryonic and postnatal development. Despite high levels of Bmp8a expression in the deciduum, homozygous mutant females have normal fertility, suggesting that the gene is not essential for female reproduction. Bmp8a and Bmp8b are expressed in similar patterns in male germ cells. Unlike homozygous Bmp8btm1 mutants, homozygous Bmp8atm1 males do not show obvious germ cell defects during the initiation of spermatogenesis. However, germ cell degeneration is observed in 47% of adult homozygous Bmp8atm1 males, establishing a role of Bmp8a in the maintenance of spermatogenesis. A small proportion of the mating homozygous Bmp8atm1 males also show degeneration of the epididymal epithelium, indicating a novel role for BMPs in the control of epididymal function.
Zhao, GQ; Liaw, L; Hogan, BL
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