Prophase I of male meiosis during early spermatogenesis involves dynamic chromosome segregation processes, including synapsis, meiotic recombination and cohesion. Genetic defects in the genes that participate in these processes consistently cause reproduction failure in mice. To identify candidate genes responsible for infertility in humans, we performed gene expression profiling of mouse spermatogenic cells undergoing meiotic prophase I. Cell fractions enriched in spermatogonia, leptotene/zygotene spermatocytes or pachytene spermatocytes from developing mouse testis were separately isolated by density gradient sedimentation and subjected to microarray analysis. A total of 726 genes were identified that were upregulated in leptotene/zygotene spermatocytes. To evaluate the screening efficiency for meiosis-specific genes, we randomly selected 12 genes from this gene set and characterized each gene product using reverse transcription (RT)-PCR of RNA from gonadal tissues, in situ hybridization on testicular tissue sections and subcellular localization analysis of the encoded protein. Four of the 12 genes were confirmed as genes expressed in meiotic stage and 2 of these 4 genes were novel, previously uncharacterized genes. Among the three confirmation methods that were used, RT-PCR appeared to be the most efficient method for further screening. These 726 candidates for human infertility genes might serve as a useful resource for next-generation sequencing combined with exon capture by microarray.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes