GATA-1 is an essential factor for the transcriptional activation of erythroid-specific genes, and is also abundantly expressed in a discrete subset of cells bordering the seminiferous epithelium in tubules of the murine testis. In examining normal and germ-line defective mutant mice, we show here that GATA-1 is expressed only in the Sertoli cell lineage in mouse testis. GATA-1 expression in Sertoli cells is induced concomitantly with the first wave of spermatogenesis, and GATA-1-positive cells are uniformly distributed among all tubules during prepubertal testis development. However, the number of GATA-1-positive cells declines thereafter and were found only in the peripheral zone of seminiferous tubules in stages VII, VIII and IX of spermatogenesis in the adult mouse testis. In contrast, virtually every Sertoli cell in mutant W/Wv, jsd/jsd or cryptorchid mice (all of which lack significant numbers of germ cells) expresses GATA-1, thus showing that the expression of this transcription factor is negatively controlled by the maturing germ cells. These observations suggest that transcription factor GATA-1 is a developmental stage- and spermatogenic cycle-specific regulator of gene expression in Sertoli cells.

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