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In eukaryotes, post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression has a key role in many cellular and developmental processes. Spermatogenesis involves a complex developmental program that includes changes in cell cycle dynamics and dramatic cellular remodeling. Translational control is critical for spermatogenesis in Drosophila as many mRNAs synthesized in the spermatocytes are translated only much later during spermatid differentiation. Testes-specific translation initiation factors eIF4E-3 and eIF4G2 are essential specifically for male fertility. However, details of their roles during different stages of spermatogenesis are unknown, and the role of canonical translation initiation factors in spermatogenesis remains unexplored. In this study, we addressed the functional role of eIF4E-1, eIF4E-3, eIF4G and eIF4G2 in testes development and formation of mature sperm. Using the UAS-Gal4 system and RNA interference, we systematically knocked down these four genes in different stages of germ cell development, and in the somatic cells. Our results show that eIF4E-1 function in early germ cells and the surrounding somatic cells is critical for spermatogenesis. Both eIF4E-1 and eIF4E-3 are required in spermatocytes for chromosome condensation and cytokinesis during the meiotic stages. Interestingly, we find that eIF4G knockdown did not affect male fertility while eIF4G2 has distinct functions during spermatogenesis; it is required in early germ cells for proper meiotic divisions and spermatid elongation while its abrogation in spermatocytes caused meiotic arrest. Double knockdown of eIF4G and eIF4G2 shows that these proteins act redundantly during the early stages of spermatogenesis. Taken together, our analysis reveals spatio-temporal roles of the canonical and testes-specific translation initiation factors in coordinating developmental programs during spermatogenesis.

Original publication





PLoS One

Publication Date





Animals, Chromosomes, Cytokinesis, Drosophila, Drosophila Proteins, Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4E, Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4G, Germ Cells, Male, Meiosis, RNA Interference, RNA, Small Interfering, Spermatocytes, Spermatogenesis, Testis