Loss of Dicer in Sertoli cells has a major impact on the testicular proteome of mice.

Sertoli cells (SCs) are the central, essential coordinators of spermatogenesis, without which germ cell development cannot occur. We previously showed that Dicer, an RNaseIII endonuclease required for microRNA (miRNA) biogenesis, is absolutely essential for Sertoli cells to mature, survive, and ultimately sustain germ cell development. Here, using isotope-coded protein labeling, a technique for protein relative quantification by mass spectrometry, we investigated the impact of Sertoli cell-Dicer and subsequent miRNA loss on the testicular proteome. We found that, a large proportion of proteins (50 out of 130) are up-regulated by more that 1.3-fold in testes lacking Sertoli cell-Dicer, yet that this protein up-regulation is mild, never exceeding a 2-fold change, and is not preceeded by alterations of the corresponding mRNAs. Of note, the expression levels of six proteins of interest were further validated using the Absolute Quantification (AQUA) peptide technology. Furthermore, through 3'UTR luciferase assays we identified one up-regulated protein, SOD-1, a Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase whose overexpression has been linked to enhanced cell death through apoptosis, as a likely direct target of three Sertoli cell-expressed miRNAs, miR-125a-3p, miR-872 and miR-24. Altogether, our study, which is one of the few in vivo analyses of miRNA effects on protein output, suggests that, at least in our system, miRNAs play a significant role in translation control.