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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Male infertility due to germ cell apoptosis in mice lacking the thiamin carrier, Tht1. A new insight into the critical role of thiamin in spermatogenesis.

A mouse model of thiamin-responsive megaloblastic anemia (diabetes mellitus, deafness, megaloblastic anemia) lacking functional Slc19a2 has been generated and unexpectedly found to have a male-specific sterility phenotype. We describe here the characterization of the testis-specific effects of absence of the high-affinity thiamin transporter, Tht1. Null males were found to have hypoplastic testes secondary to germ cell depletion. Morphologic and expression analysis revealed that under conditions of standard thiamin intake, tissues affected in the syndrome (pancreatic beta-cell, hematopoietic cells, auditory nerve) maintained normal function but pachytene stage spermatocytes underwent apoptosis. Under conditions of thiamin challenge, the apoptotic cell loss extended to earlier stages of germ cells but spared Sertoli cells and Leydig cells. Injection of high-dose thiamin was effective in reversing the spermatogenic failure, suggesting that the absence of the thiamin carrier could be overcome by diffusion-mediated transport at supranormal thiamin concentrations. These observations demonstrated that male germ cells, particularly those with high thiamin transporter expression beyond the blood-testis barrier, were more susceptible to apoptosis triggered by intracellular thiamin deficiency than any other tissue type. The findings described here highlight an unexpected and critical role for thiamin transport and metabolism in spermatogenesis.[1]


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