ERbeta1 and the ERbeta2 splice variant (ERbetacx/beta2) are expressed in distinct cell populations in the adult human testis

Philippa T K Saunders, Michael R Millar, Sheila Macpherson, D Stewart Irvine, Nigel P Groome, Lee R Evans, Richard M Sharpe, Graeme A Scobie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Estrogens can regulate germ cell function. Estrogen action is mediated via high affinity ERs; two subtypes (ERalpha and ERbeta) have been identified. We have shown previously that ERbeta is expressed in nuclei of multiple human testicular cells. A variant isoform of human (h) ERbeta (hERbetacx/2), formed by alternative splicing, has been identified in testicular cDNA libraries by two laboratories. The present study examined the expression of wild-type (ERbeta1) and variant (ERbeta2) beta receptors in human testes by 1) RT-PCR with isoform specific primers, and 2) single and double immunohistochemistry using monoclonal antibodies raised against peptides unique to the C termini of hERbeta1 and hERbeta2. PCR products specific for ERbeta1 and ERbeta2 were amplified from cDNA pools prepared from human testes and granulosa cells. On Western blots, the anti-ERbeta1 monoclonal antibody bound to recombinant ERbeta1 and the anti-ERbeta2 monoclonal to recombinant hERbeta2. Neither bound to the other ERbeta isoform nor to recombinant ERalpha. ERbeta1 and ERbeta2 proteins were both detected in human testis. Immunoexpression of ERbeta1 was most intense in pachytene spermatocytes and round spermatids, whereas low levels of expression were detected in Sertoli cells, spermatogonia, preleptotene, leptotene, zygotene, and diplotene spermatocytes. Highest levels of expression of ERbeta2 protein were detected in Sertoli cells and spermatogonia with low/variable expression in preleptotene, pachytene, and diplotene spermatocytes. No immunostaining was detected in elongating spermatids. Most interstitial cells expressed more ERbeta2 than ERbeta1. It is speculated that the cells most susceptible to modulation by estrogenic ligands are round spermatids in which levels of expression of ERbeta1 are high. In contrast, expression of ERbeta2, an isoform that may act as a dominant negative inhibitor of ER action, in Sertoli cells and spermatogonia, could protect these cells from adverse effects of estrogens.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2706-15
Number of pages10
JournalThe Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM)
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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