Testicular germ and somatic cells express many classes of small ncRNAs, including Dicer-independent PIWI-interacting RNAs, Dicer-dependent miRNAs, and endogenous small interfering RNA. Several studies have identified ncRNAs that are highly, exclusively, or preferentially expressed in the testis and epididymis in specific germ and somatic cell types. Temporal and spatial expression of proteins is a key requirement of successful spermatogenesis and large-scale gene transcription occurs in two key stages, just prior to transcriptional quiescence in meiosis and then during spermiogenesis just prior to nuclear silencing in elongating spermatids. More than 60 % of these transcripts are then stockpiled for subsequent translation. In this capacity ncRNAs may act to interpret and transduce cellular signals to either maintain the undifferentiated stem cell population and/or drive cell differentiation during spermatogenesis and epididymal maturation. The assignation of specific roles to the majority of ncRNA species implicated as having a role in spermatogenesis and epididymal function will underpin fundamental understanding of normal and disease states in humans such as infertility and the development of germ cell tumours.
Holt, J. E., Stanger, S. J., Nixon, B., & McLaughlin, E. A. (2016). Non-coding RNA in spermatogenesis and epididymal maturation. In Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology (Vol. 886, pp. 95–120). Springer New York LLC. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-7417-8_6