Testis-specific cytochrome c-null mice produce functional sperm but undergo early testicular atrophy

Sonoko Narisawa, Norman B. Hecht, Erwin Goldberg, Kelly M. Boatright, John C. Reed, José Luis Millán*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


Differentiating male germ cells express a testis-specific form of cytochrome c (Cyt cT) that is distinct from the cytochrome c expressed in somatic cells (Cyt CS). To examine the role of Cyt cT in germ cells, we generated mice null for Cyt cT. Homozygous Cyt cT-/- pups were statistically underrepresented (21%) but developed normally and were fertile. However, spermatozoa isolated from the cauda epididymis of Cyt cT-null animals were less effective in fertilizing oocytes in vitro and contain reduced levels of ATP compared to wild-type sperm. Sperm from Cyt cT-null mice contained a greater number of immotile spermatozoa than did samples from control mice, i.e., 53.1% ± 13.7% versus 33.2% ± 10.3% (P < 0.0001) for vas deferens sperm and 40.1% ± 9.6% versus 33.2% ± 7.5% (P = 0.0104) for epididymal sperm. Cyt cT-null mice often exhibit early atrophy of the testes after 4 months of age, losing germ cells as a result of increased apoptosis. However, no difference in the activation of caspase-3, -8, or -9 was detected between the Cyt cT-/- testes and controls. Our data indicate that the Cyt cT-null testes undergo early atrophy equivalent to that which occurs during aging as a consequence of a reduction in oxidative phosphorylation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5554-5562
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number15
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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