Progestin is an essential factor for the initiation of the meiosis in spermatogenetic cells of the eel

Takeshi Miura, Masato Higuchi, Yuichi Ozaki, Takashi Ohta, Chiemi Miura

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122 Citations (Scopus)


Meiosis is an indispensable process of sexual reproduction. However, detailed information on the regulatory mechanisms that initiate meiosis is not available. Progestins are important steroids regulating final maturation in male and female vertebrates. In male teleosts, it is known that progestin induces spermiation and sperm maturation. However, a role for progestin in early spermatogenesis or meiosis has not yet been described. In this study, we examined the functions of progestin on the initiation of meiosis in male Japanese eel. A natural progestin in teleost fish 17α,20β-dihydroxy- 4-pregnen-3-one (DHP) and its receptors were present in the testis at an early stage of spermatogenesis. By using an eel testicular culture system, DHP was shown to induce DNA replication in spermatogonia. Although 11-ketotestosterone, a known initiator of spermatogenesis, also stimulated DNA synthesis in spermatogonia, antibodies against DHP prevented DNA replication when added during the period in which meiosis was initiated. DHP treatment also induced the expression of meiosis-specific markers, such as Dmcl and Spo11. Furthermore, Spo11 expression and synaptonemal complexes, specific features of the meiotic prophase, were detected in testicular fragments cultured with DHP in some germ cells that showed morphological characteristics of undifferentiated spermatogonia. We conclude that DHP, a progestin, is an essential factor for the initiation of meiosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7333-7338
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 2006 May 9
Externally publishedYes


  • Androgen
  • In vitro culture
  • Japanese eel
  • Spermatogenesis
  • Spo11

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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