Volume 11 (2017) Issue 1 Pages 46-53
Human DDX3 paralogs are housed on the X chromosome (DDX3X) as well as in the non- recombining region Yq11 of the Y-chromosome (DDX3Y or DBY). A gene encoding RNA helicase DDX3Y is located in the AZoospermia Factor a (AZFa) region of the Y-chromosome and expressed only in male germ cells. Deletions encompassing the DDX3Y gene lead to azoospermia and cause Sertoli Cell-Only Syndrome (SCOS) in humans. SCOS is characterized by a complete germ cell lack with preservation of somatic Sertoli cells. This review summarizes current advances in the study of DDX3Y functions in maintenance and development of early male germ cells. Data obtained from a mouse xenotransplantation model reveals that DDX3Y expression is enough to drive germ cell differentiation of AZFa-deleted human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and for activation of the specific set of germline developmental genes. Results achieved using the testes of Drosophila demonstrate that DDX3Y homolog Belle is required cell-autonomously for mitotic progression and survival of germline stem cells and spermatogonia as the upstream regulator of mitotic cyclin expression.