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Differential regulation of gene expression in mouse spermatogonial cells after blocking c-kit-SCF interaction with RNAi

c-Kit, the gene product of the W locus is a receptor tyrosine kinase that regulates the survival, growth and differentiation of spermatogonial cells (SGCs). Stem cell factor (SCF), the gene product of the steel (Sl) locus is the ligand for c-kit. Normal function of SGCs requires cross-talk between c-kit and SCF through which the receptor-ligand pair regulates the functions of SGCs. The implications of cross-talk between c-kit and SCF in regulating SGC function remains unclear due to the molecular complexity of this interaction. In the present study, we analyzed the interactions between c-kit and SCF in mouse primary SGCs after blocking the c-kit expression by c-kit siRNA and its effect on cell fate were determined using cDNA Expression Array and Real-time PCR. Immunofluorescence (IF) and western blot studies revealed that c-kit protein was detected in SGCs and knocked down to undetectable levels at 24 hr post transfection with 10 nM concentration of c-kit siRNA. We further demonstrated that expression of various genes involved in cell signaling, cell differentiation, apoptosis and cell cycle pathways was altered. SGC functions are affected by SCF signaling through c-kit receptor and this signaling appears to be important to maintain balance between cell proliferation and apoptosis along with the modulation of inflammatory responses of SGCs. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report that identifies the putative molecular pathways in murine SGCs in response to specific blocking of c-kit-SCF interactions by siRNA. In conclusion, the present study may provide useful insights into siRNA function and hopefully aid in understanding the involvement of c-kit in the early events of SGC activities and spermatogenesis in mice.

Author(s): Arun P Sikarwar, Murali K Rambabu and K V R Reddy*