Discovery in Silico and Characterization in Vitro of Novel Genes Exclusively Expressed in the Mouse Epididymis

Jenni Penttinen, Dwi Ari Pujianto, Petra Sipilä, Ilpo Huhtaniemi, Matti Poutanen

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58 Citations (Scopus)


Epididymal proteins interact with sperm during their passage through the epididymis and thus contribute to the maturation and fertilizing capacity of the spermatozoa. In the present study we have discovered five novel epididymis-specific genes through in silico analysis of expressed sequence tags (ESTs) at the UniGene library collection. The strategy used is a powerful way to discover novel epididymis-specific genes. The full-length cDNA sequences were determined, and computational tools were used to characterize the genomic structures and to predict putative functions for the encoded proteins. In vitro analyses revealed that all five genes characterized were highly expressed in the defined areas of the epididymis, and they were not expressed at significant levels in any other tissue. Three of the genes were named on the basis of their putative functions: Spint4 (serine protease inhibitor, Kunitz type 4), and Rnase9 and Rnase10 (ribonuclease, Rnase A family 9 and 10), while for the ESTs AV381130 and AV381126 no putative functions could be predicted. The expression of Spint4, Rnase9, and AV381130 was found to be under a direct or indirect regulation by androgens, while the expression of RnaselO is regulated by a testicular factor(s) other than androgen. None of the genes were expressed in the immature epididymis, while mRNAs were detected from d 17 onward, at the time of maturation of epididymal epithelium. However, the expression of AV381130 was not detected until d 30 after birth, indicating a close connection between gene expression and puberty.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2138-2151
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Endocrinology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2003


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