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Fhl5/Act, a CREM-binding transcriptional activator required for normal sperm maturation and morphology, is not essential for testicular gene expression


Abstract Background The LIM domain protein Fhl5 was previously found to interact with CREM, a DNA binding transcriptional regulator necessary for spermiogenesis in mammals. Co-transfection experiments using heterologous promoter constructs indicated a role for Fhl5 in transcriptional up-regulation of CREM-dependent testicular genes. Male mice lacking Fhl5 were reported to be fertile but displayed partially abnormal sperm maturation and morphology. Methods To identify Fhl5 testicular target genes we carried out two whole-genome expression profiling experiments using high-density oligonucleotide microarrays and total testis samples from Fhl5 wild-type versus homozygous mutant mice first in different and then in isogenic strain backgrounds. Results Weak signal differences were detected in non-isogenic samples but no statistically significant expression changes were observed when isogenic Fhl5 mutant and wild-type samples were compared. Conclusion The outcome of these experiments suggests that testicular expression profiling is extremely sensitive to the genetic background and that Fhl5 is not essential for testicular gene expression to a level detected by microarray-based measurements. This might be due to redundant function of the related and similarly expressed protein Fhl4.

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