Trypsin is a multifunctional factor in spermatogenesis

Chiemi Miura, Takashi Ohta, Yuichi Ozaki, Hideki Tanaka, Takeshi Miura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Trypsin is well known as a pancreatic enzyme that is typically secreted into the intestine to digest proteins. We show in our current study, however, that trypsin is also a key factor in the control of spermatogenesis. A progestin in teleost fish, 17α, 20β-dihydroxy-4-pregnen-3-one (DHP), is an essential component of the spermatogenesis pathway, particularly during the initiation of the first meiotic division. In the course of our investigations into the mechanisms underlying progestin-stimulated spermatogenesis, we identified that eel trypsinogen is upregulated in eel testis by DHP treatment. Trypsinogen is expressed in the Sertoli cells surrounding spermatogonia and in the membranes of spermatids and spermatozoa. Using an in vitro eel testicular culture system, we further analyzed the roles of trypsin in spermatogenesis. The inhibition of trypsin using specific antibodies or serine protease inhibitors was found to compromise DHP-induced spermatogenesis. A low dose of trypsin induces DNA synthesis and the expression of Spo11, a molecular marker of meiosis, in germ cells. By comparison, a higher dose of trypsin partially induced spermiogenesis. Furthermore, trypsin was detectable in the membranes of the spermatozoa and found to be associated with fertilization in fish. Our results thus demonstrate that trypsin and/or a trypsin-like protease is an essential and multifunctional factor in spermatogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20972-20977
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number49
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Dec 8
Externally publishedYes


  • Fish
  • Germ cell
  • In vitro culture
  • Teleost
  • Testis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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