• Castration;
  • EDS treatment;
  • DHT supplementation;
  • efferent duct ligation;
  • postnatal development

ABSTRACT: The multifunctional and androgen-regulated epididymis is known to provide a conducive microenvironment for the maturation and storage of mature spermatozoa. HOXB2 homeodomain-containing epididymis-specific sperm protein (HOXBES2), a molecule first reported by our group, exhibits cell- and region-specific expression. It was found in the cytoplasm of the principal epithelial cells with maximum in the distal segments of the rat epididymis. The present study was undertaken to determine whether HOXBES2 expression is regulated by androgens and postnatal epididymal development. Toward this, the epididymis was disallowed access to circulating androgens either by chemical or biologic castration. In bilaterally orchidectomized animals, the levels of immunoreactive HOXBES2 declined to <5 % of those seen in sham-operated animals. Exogenous dihydrotestosterone (DHT) supplementation (250μg/kg body weight) for 7 days restored the expression levels to ≥ 90 % of that observed in intact animals. Ethylene dimethane sulfonate (EDS) administration completely abolished HOXBES2 expression in the epididymis, and supplementation with DHT or DHT + estradiol for 10 days re-established HOXBES2 expression to near normalcy. However, in the estradiol alone-supplemented EDS-treated group, HOXBES2 remained undetected. The unaltered HOXBES2 expression following efferent duct ligation suggested that HOXBES2 is not critically dependent on testicular factors. During postnatal development, protein expression in the epididymis begins to appear from day 40 and 50 and increased from day 60 onward, coinciding with the mature levels of circulating androgens and the well-differentiated epididymis. Thus, the data obtained from this study suggests that HOXBES2 expression could be regulated by androgens, and its expression level is closely associated with the postnatal development of the epididymis.