Testatin has been implicated in fetal testis development due to its restricted expression in pre-Sertoli cells immediately after the onset of Sry gene expression. However, testatin knockout mice showed normal testis development and fertility. We investigated the spatial and temporal expression pattern of the Cres/testatin subgroup of genes, including the novel gene Cstl1/Cres4, in fetal mouse gonads and in adult testis, epididymis and ovary. The genes are related to the family 2 cystatins of protease inhibitors. Using real-time PCR and in situ hybridization we could show that 4 subgroup genes, testatin, CstSC, CstTE-1/Cres3 and Cres are expressed in fetal testis. We also confirmed the expression of testatin, CstE2, CstSC, CstTE-1/Cr es3, Cres, CstT and Cstl1/Cres4 in adult testis and CstE2, CstTE-1/Cres3, Cres and CstE1/Cres2 in adult epididymis. In testatin knockout animals, the expression of CstE2 was heavily downregulated in adult testis, but not in adult epididymis, compared to wildtype controls. In conclusion, an explanation for the lack of phenotype in testatin knockout mice could be functional redundancy with another member of the Cres/testatin subgroup. The most likely candidate/s would be CstSC, CstTE-1/Cres3 or Cres as they are expressed in the fetal testicular tubules in early testis differentiation together with testatin.

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