ROS1 signaling regulates epithelial differentiation in the epididymis

Hyun Jung Jun, Jeremy Roy, Tegan B. Smith, Levi B. Wood, Keara Lane, Steve Woolfenden, Diana Punko, Roderick T. Bronson, Kevin M. Haigis, Sylvie Breton, Al Charest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The initial segment (IS) of the epididymis plays an essential role in male fertility. The IS epithelium is undifferentiated and nonfunctional at birth. Prior to puberty, the epithelium undergoes differentiation that leads to the formation of a fully functional organ. However, the mechanistic details of this program are not well understood. To explore this further, we used genetic engineering to create a kinase dead allele of the ROS1 receptor tyrosine kinase in mice and studied the effects of ROS1 tyrosine kinase activity on the differentiation of the IS epithelium. We show that the expression and activation of ROS1 coincides with the onset of differentiation and is exclusively located in the IS of the maturing and adult mouse epididymides. Here we demonstrate that the differentiation of the IS is dependent on the kinase activity of ROS1 and its downstream effector MEK1/2-ERK1/2 signaling axis. Using genetic engineering,weshow that germ line ablation of ROS1 kinase activity leads to a failure of the IS epithelium to differentiate, and as a consequence sperm maturation and infertility were dramatically perturbed. Pharmacological inhibition of ROS1 kinase activity in the developing epididymis, however, only delayed differentiation transientlyanddidnot result in infertility. Our results demonstrate that ROS1 kinase activity and the ensuing MEK1/2-ERK1/2 signaling are necessary for the postnatal development of the IS epithelium and that a sustained ablation of ROS1 kinase activity within the critical window of terminal differentiation abrogate the function of the epididymis and leads to sterility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3661-3673
Number of pages13
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


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