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Transcription factor-like 5 is a potential DNA/RNA-binding protein essential for maintaining male fertility in mice.Running title: Tcfl5 is haploinsufficient in vivo

By Weiya Xu, Yiyun Zhang, Dongdong Qin, Yiqian Gui, Shu Wang, Guihua Du, Fan Yang, Lufan Li, Shuiqiao Yuan, Mei Wang, Xin Wu

Posted 17 Jun 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.06.17.448807

Tissue-specific transcription factors often play key roles in the development of specific cell lineages. Transcription factor-like 5 (TCFL5) is a testis-specific protein that contains the basic helix-loop-helix domain, although the in vivo functions of TCFL5 remain unknown. Herein, we generated CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knockout mice to dissect the function of TCFL5 in mouse testes. Surprisingly, we found that it was difficult to generate homozygous mice with the Tcfl5 deletion since the heterozygous males (Tcfl5+/-) were infertile. We did, however, observe markedly abnormal phenotypes of spermatids and spermatozoa in the testes and epididymides of Tcfl5+/- mice. Mechanistically, we demonstrated that TCFL5 transcriptionally regulated a set of genes participating in male germ cell development, which we uncovered via RNA-sequencing and TCFL5 ChIP-sequencing. We also found that TCFL5 interacted with RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) that regulated RNA processing, and further identified the fragile X mental retardation gene 1, autosomal homolog (FXR1, a known RBP) as an interacting partner of TCFL5 that may coordinate the transition and localization of TCFL5 in the nucleus. Collectively, we herein report for the first time that Tcfl5 is haploinsufficient in vivo and hypothesize that TCFL5 may be a dual-function protein that mediates DNA and RNA to regulate spermatogenesis.

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