Although angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) has been studied primarily in the context of its role in blood pressure regulation, this widely distributed enzyme has many other physiological functions. The ACE gene encodes two isozymes. The somatic isozyme is expressed in many tissues, including vascular endothelial cells, renal epithelial cells, and testicular Leydig cells, whereas the testicular or germinal angiotensin-converting enzyme is expressed only in sperm. The ACE gene knockout mice lack both isozymes and they exhibit low blood pressure, kidney dysfunctions, and male infertility. Here, we report the use of a sperm-specific promoter and interbreeding of transgenic and gene knockout mice for generating a mouse strain that expressed ACE only in sperm. The experimental mice maintained the kidney defects of ACE-/- mice, but unlike the knockout strain, the males were fertile. Thus, we established that the role of ACE in male fertility is completely dependent on its exclusive expression in sperm. Our study clearly demonstrated how transgenic and knockout techniques can be combined for ascribing a specific physiological function to the expression of a multifunctional protein in a given tissue.
P Ramaraj, S P Kessler, C Colmenares, G C Sen