Int J Biol Sci 2020; 16(2):239-250. doi:10.7150/ijbs.38232

Research Paper

Bovid microRNAs involved in the process of spermatogonia differentiation into spermatocytes

Chuanfei Xu1,2, Mujahid ali Shah2, TserangDonko Mipam1, Shixin Wu2, Chuanping Yi2, Hui Luo2, Meng Yuan2, Zhixin Chai1, Wangsheng Zhao2✉, Xin Cai1,2✉

1. Key Laboratory of Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau Animal Genetic Resource Reservation and Utilization, Sichuan Province and Ministry of Education, Southwest Minzu University, Chengdu 610041, Sichuan, China.
2. School of Life Science and Engineering, Southwest University of Science and Technology, Mianyang 621010, Sichuan, China.

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Xu C, Shah Ma, Mipam T, Wu S, Yi C, Luo H, Yuan M, Chai Z, Zhao W, Cai X. Bovid microRNAs involved in the process of spermatogonia differentiation into spermatocytes. Int J Biol Sci 2020; 16(2):239-250. doi:10.7150/ijbs.38232. Available from

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The male infertility of cattleyak resulted from spermatogenic arrest has greatly restricted the effective utilization of the heterosis from crossbreeding of cattle and yak. Based on our previous studies, the significant divergences of the transcriptomic and proteomic sequencing between yak and cattleyak prompt us to investigate the critical roles of microRNAs in post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression during spermatogenesis. TUNEL-POD analysis presented sharply decreased spermatogenic cell types and the increased apoptotic spermatogonia in cattleyak. The STA-PUT velocity sedimentation was employed to obtain spermatogonia and spermatocytes from cattle, yak and cattleyak and these spermatogenic cells were verified by the morphological and phenotypic identification. MicroRNA microarray showed that 27 differentially expressed miRNAs were simultaneously identified both in cattleyak vs cattle and in cattleyak vs yak comparisons. Further analysis revealed that the down-regulation of bta-let-7 families, bta-miR-125 and bta-miR-23a might impair the RA-induced differentiation of spermatogonia. Target gene analysis for differentially expressed miRNAs revealed that miRNAs targeted major players involved in vesicle-mediated transport, regulation of protein kinase activity and Pathways in cancer. In addition, spermatogonia transfection analysis revealed that the down-regulation of bta-miR-449a in the cattleyak might block the transition of male germ cells from the mitotic cycle to the meiotic program. The present study provided valuable information for future elucidating the regulatory roles of miRNAs involved in spermatogenic arrest of cattleyak.

Keywords: cattleyak, male infertility, microRNA profiling, spermatogenesis, STA-PUT