The bovine oxytocin gene has been expressed in the testes of two independent transgenic mouse lines. Hybridization and RNase protection analysis showed that the oxytocin transgene was transcribed from the normal functional promoter in the Sertoli cells of the seminiferous tubules in a developmentally regulated manner. Immunohistochemistry indicated that both oxytocin and neurophysin epitopes were expressed together in the Sertoli cells at stages I–V and X–XII of the cycle of the seminiferous epithelium. Furthermore, analysis with high- performance liquid chromatography showed that there was a tenfold increase in the amount of amidated oxytocin present in testicular extracts from the transgenic mice. However, there appeared to be no detectable effect of this overproduction of hormone on testicular morphology or fertility parameters. A significant decrease by 50% was detected only in the levels of intratesticular testosterone and dihydrotestosterone. The results point to a local paracrine role for oxytocin in the modulation of Leydig cell function.
Journal of Endocrinology (1994) 140, 53–62