Expression and regulation of transcription factors GATA-4 and GATA-6 in developing mouse testis

Ilkka Ketola, Nafis Rahman, Jorma Toppari, Malgorzata Bielinska, Susan B. Porter-Tinge, Juha S. Tapanainen, Ilpo T. Huhtaniemi, David B. Wilson, Markku Heikinheimo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

174 Scopus citations


Previous studies have shown that transcription factors GATA-4 and GATA- 6 are expressed in granulosa and thecal cells of the mouse ovary and that GATA-4 expression in ovarian tissue is regulated by gonadotropins. Given the emerging role of GATA-4 and GATA-6 in gonadal cells, we have now studied the expression and regulation of these factors in the mouse testis and testicular cell lines. In situ hybridization demonstrated GATA-4 messenger RNA (mRNA) in the fetal testis at 13.5 days postcoitum. Both GATA-4 and GATA-6 transcripts were observed in late fetal, neonatal, juvenile, and adult Sertoli cells. In addition, GATA-4 mRNA was detected in interstitial cells throughout development. Immunohistochemistry demonstrated GATA-4 protein in both Sertoli and Leydig cells in postnatal animals. The regulation of GATA-4 and GATA-6 expression was explored using established testicular cell lines. Treatment of Leydig tumor cell lines with hCG resulted in a modest, but statistically significant, increase in the steady state level of GATA-4 mRNA, comparable to the previously described effect of FSH on GATA-4 expression in Sertoli cell lines. Gonadotropin or androgen action was not, however, a prerequisite for the basal expression of GATA-4 or GATA-6 in the testis, as their presence in Sertoli and Leydig cells was demonstrated in genetically hypogonadal hpg mice, in rats treated with GnRH receptor antagonist, and in Sertoli cells after chemical abolition of Leydig cells. Cotransfection studies using a GATA-4 expression plasmid and an inhibin α promoter/reporter gene construct in Leydig and granulosa tumor cell lines revealed that the inhibin α promoter harboring essential GATA-binding sites can be trans-activated by GATA-4. In light of these results, we propose that transcription factors GATA-4 and GATA-6 play differing roles in the maturation and function of testicular somatic cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1470-1480
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999


Dive into the research topics of 'Expression and regulation of transcription factors GATA-4 and GATA-6 in developing mouse testis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this