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Open Access Short Report

Androgen receptor signalling in Vascular Endothelial cells is dispensable for spermatogenesis and male fertility

Laura O'Hara and Lee B Smith

Author Affiliations

MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, University of Edinburgh, The Queen's Medical Research Institute, 47 Little France Crescent, Edinburgh EH16 4TJ, UK

BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:16  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-16

Published: 9 January 2012

Abstract

Background

Androgen signalling is essential both for male development and function of the male reproductive system in adulthood. Within the adult testis, Germ cells (GC) do not express androgen receptor (AR) suggesting androgen-mediated promotion of spermatogenesis must act via AR-expressing somatic cell-types. Several recent studies have exploited the Cre/lox system of conditional gene-targeting to ablate AR function from key somatic cell-types in order to establish the cell-specific role of AR in promotion of male fertility. In this study, we have used a similar approach to specifically ablate AR-signalling from Vascular Endothelial (VE) cells, with a view to defining the significance of androgen signalling within this cell-type on spermatogenesis.

Findings

AR expression in VE cells of the testicular vasculature was confirmed using an antibody against AR. A Cre-inducible fluorescent reporter line was used to empirically establish the utility of a mouse line expressing Cre Recombinase driven by the Tie2-Promoter, for targeting VE cells. Immunofluorescent detection revealed expression of YFP (and therefore Cre Recombinase function) limited to VE cells and an interstitial population of cells, believed to be macrophages, that did not express AR. Mating of Tie2-Cre males to females carrying a floxed AR gene produced Vascular Endothelial Androgen Receptor Knockout (VEARKO) mice and littermate controls. Ablation of AR from all VE cells was confirmed; however, no significant differences in bodyweight or reproductive tissue weights could be detected in VEARKO animals and spermatogenesis and fertility was unaffected.

Conclusions

We demonstrate the successful generation and empirical validation of a cell-specific knockout of AR from VE cells, and conclude that AR expression in VE cells is not essential for spermatogenesis or male fertility.