PIASx and PIAS1, two members of the conserved protein inhibitor of activated STAT (PIAS) family, are able to interact with and modulate activities of several distinct nuclear proteins, including androgen receptor (AR). PIASx and PIAS1 also function as E3-type ligases in small ubiquitin-related modifier 1 modifications. To gain better insight into the physiological roles of PIASx and PIAS1 in vivo, their cell-type specific expression and regulation were analyzed during testicular development and spermatogenesis in the rat. The expression of both PIASx and PIAS1 was low or undetectable in newborn rats. PIASx mRNA started to accumulate after day 20 of postnatal life, whereas expression of PIAS1 mRNA increased around day 30 after birth. In the adult rat testis, both PIASx and PIAS1 mRNA were present in Sertoli cells and in germ cells in the seminiferous epithelium at all stages. However, PIASx mRNA was more abundant in spermatocytes than in other cell types, whereas higher levels of PIAS1 mRNA were detected in late spermatocytes and round spermatids than in early spermatocytes. Since PIASx and PIAS1 accumulate in developing male germ cells, their regulatory functions are not only restricted to AR in Sertoli cells, but they also participate in molecular processes during meiosis.
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