Cell adhesion and immune response, two main functions altered in the transcriptome of seasonally regressed testes of two mammalian species


  • F.M. Real
  • M. Lao-Pérez
  • M. Burgos
  • S. Mundlos
  • D.G. Lupiáñez
  • R. Jiménez
  • F.J. Barrionuevo


  • Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution


  • J Exp Zool B Mol Dev Evol 340 (3): 231-244


  • In species with seasonal breeding, male specimens undergo substantial testicular regression during the nonbreeding period of the year. However, the molecular mechanisms that control this biological process are largely unknown. Here, we report a transcriptomic analysis on the Iberian mole, Talpa occidentalis, in which the desquamation of live, nonapoptotic germ cells is the major cellular event responsible for testis regression. By comparing testes at different reproductive states (active, regressing, and inactive), we demonstrate that the molecular pathways controlling the cell adhesion function in the seminiferous epithelium, such as the MAPK, ERK, and TGF-β signaling, are altered during the regression process. In addition, inactive testes display a global upregulation of genes associated with immune response, indicating a selective loss of the "immune privilege" that normally operates in sexually active testes. Interspecies comparative analyses using analogous data from the Mediterranean pine vole, a rodent species where testis regression is controlled by halting meiosis entry, revealed a common gene expression signature in the regressed testes of these two evolutionary distant species. Our study advances in the knowledge of the molecular mechanisms associated to gonadal seasonal breeding, highlighting the existence of a conserved transcriptional program of testis involution across mammalian clades.