Testicular germ cell–specific lncRNA, Teshl, is required for complete expression of Y chromosome genes and a normal offspring sex ratio

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Science Advances  09 Jun 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 24, eabg5177
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abg5177


Heat shock factor 2 (HSF2) regulates the transcription of the male-specific region of the mouse Y chromosome long arm (MSYq) multicopy genes only in testes, but the molecular mechanism underlying this tissue specificity remains largely unknown. Here, we report that the testicular germ cell–specific long noncoding RNA (lncRNA), NR_038002, displays a characteristic spatiotemporal expression pattern in the nuclei of round and elongating spermatids. NR_038002-knockout male mice produced sperm with abnormal head morphology and exhibited reduced fertility accompanied by a female-biased sex ratio in offspring. Molecular analyses revealed that NR_038002 interacts with HSF2 and thereby activates expression of the MSYq genes. We designate NR_038002 as testicular germ cell–specific HSF2-interacting lncRNA (Teshl). Together, our study is the first to demonstrate that the testis specificity of HSF2 activity is regulated by the lncRNA Teshl and establishes a Teshl-HSF2-MSYq molecular axis for normal Y-bearing sperm qualities and consequent balanced offspring sex ratio.

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