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Itaru Minagawa, Dai Sagata, Ali Mohammed Pitia, Hiroshi Kohriki, Masatoshi Shibata, Hiroshi Sasada, Yoshihisa Hasegawa and Tetsuya Kohsaka

Relaxin-like factor (RLF), now mainly known as insulin-like factor 3 (INSL3), is essential for testis descent during fetal development; however, its function in the adult testis is still being elucidated. As a major step toward understanding the as-yet-unknown function of INSL3 in boars, this study aimed to develop a time-resolved fluoroimmunoassay for boar INSL3, characterize the dynamics of INSL3 expression during development, and demonstrate the expression of the INSL3 hormone–receptor system in the testis. All samples were collected from Duroc boars. The sensitivity of the assay system established was 8.2 pg/well (164 pg/ml), and no cross-reactivity with other hormones, such as porcine relaxin, was observed. Circulating INSL3 was shown to increase progressively during development. INSL3 secreted from the Leydig cells was released not only into the blood circulation but also into the interstitial and seminiferous compartments in sufficient concentrations. A testicular fractionation study revealed that its receptor RXFP2 transcripts were expressed mainly in testicular germ cells. In addition, INSL3 bound to the germ cell membranes in a hormone-specific and saturable manner. These results reveal that INSL3 secreted into the interstitial compartment from the Leydig cells is transported into the seminiferous compartments, where its receptor RXFP2 is expressed mainly in the germ cells to which INSL3 binds, suggesting that INSL3 functions as a paracrine factor on seminiferous germ cells.

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Shinichi Kato, Siqin, Itaru Minagawa, Takuya Aoshima, Dai Sagata, Hirokazu Konishi, Keiichiro Yogo, Tatsuo Kawarasaki, Hiroshi Sasada, Hiroshi Tomogane and Tetsuya Kohsaka

Although the physiological role of relaxin (RLN) in males remains largely unknown, there is limited evidence that the testis might be a candidate source and target of RLN in boars, as RLN transcripts are detected in the boar testis and it contains RLN-binding sites. To determine whether the boar testis acts as a source and target tissue of RLN, we characterised the expression pattern and cellular localisation of both RLN and its own receptor LGR7 (RXFP1) in boar testes during postnatal development by molecular and immunological approaches. Testes were collected from Duroc boars, and partial cDNA sequences of the boar homologue of human RXFP1 were identified. RLN expression increased through puberty onwards, while RXFP1 expression changed little during development. RLN mRNA and protein expression were restricted to the Leydig cells, whereas both Leydig cells and seminiferous epithelial cells expressed RXFP1 mRNA and protein. Interestingly, RLN was expressed in the testis as an 18 kDa form (the expected size of proRLN), but not as the 6 kDa mature form, during development because of a lack of the enzyme required for proRLN processing. In contrast, RXFP1 was detected at all stages as specific bands of 75 and 91–95 kDa (likely non-glycosylated and glycosylated RXFP1 respectively). Thus, we provide evidence for expression of RLN–RXFP1 ligand–receptor system in the boar testis, suggesting that the testis act as a source and possible target tissue of RLN.