Cracd marks the first wave of meiosis during spermatogenesis and is mis-expressed in azoospermia mice

Paige L. Snider, Olga Simmons, Simon J. Conway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Testicular development starts in utero and maturation continues postnatally, requiring a cascade of gene activation and differentiation into different cell types, with each cell type having its own specific function. As we had previously reported that the Capping protein inhibiting regulator of actin (Cracd) gene was expressed in the adult mouse testis, herein we examine when and where the β-catenin associated Cracd is initially expressed during postnatal testis development. Significantly, Cracd mRNA is present in both the immature postnatal and adult testis in round spermatid cells, with highest level of expression occurring during the first wave of meiosis and spermatogenesis. In the juvenile testes, Cracd is initially expressed within the innermost region but as maturation occurs, Cracd mRNA switches to a more peripheral location. Thereafter, Cracd is downregulated to maintenance levels in the haploid male germ cell lineage. As Cracd mRNA was expressed within developing round spermatids, we tested its effectiveness as a biomarker of non-obstructive azoospermia using transgenic knockout mice models. Meaningfully, Cracd expression was absent in Deleted in azoospermia like (Dazl) null testis, which exhibit a dramatic germ cell loss. Moreover, Cracd was abnormally regulated and ectopically mis-expressed in Polypyrimidine tract binding protein-2 (Ptbp2) conditional germ cell restricted knockout testis, which exhibit a block during spermatid differentiation and a reduction in the number of late stage spermatocytes coincident with reduced β-catenin expression. Combined, these data suggest that Cracd is a useful first wave of spermatogenesis biomarker of azoospermia phenotypes, even prior to an overt phenotype being evident.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number21
JournalJournal of Developmental Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Azoospermia
  • Cracd
  • Differentiation
  • Gene expression
  • Meiosis
  • Mouse testis development
  • Spermatogonia
  • β-catenin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

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