Sperm 1: A POU-domain gene transiently expressed immediately before meiosis I in the male germ cell
Members of the POU-domain gene family encode for transcriptional regulatory molecules that are important for terminal differentiation of several organ systems, including anterior pituitary, sensory neurons, and B lymphocytes. We have identified a POU-domain factor, referred to as sperm 1 (Sprm-1). This factor is most related to the transactivator Oct-3/4, which is expressed in the early embryo, primordial germ cells, and the egg. However, in contrast with Oct-3/4, rat Sprm-1 is selectively expressed during a 36- to 48-hr period immediately preceding meiosis I in male germ cells. Although the POU-domain of Sprm-1 is divergent from the POU-domains of Oct-1 and Oct-2, random-site-selection assay reveals that Sprm-1 preferentially binds to a specific variant of the classic octamer DNA-response element in which the optimal sequence differs from that preferred by Oct-1 and Pit-1. These data suggest that the Sprm-1 gene encodes a DNA-binding protein that may exert a regulatory function in meiotic events that are required for terminal differentiation of the male germ cell.