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Guozheng Gao, Yong Zhao, Ke Wang, and Fang Wang

Transportation of vitamin C [also called ascorbic acid (AA)], an important water-soluble antioxidant and cofactor in testis, requires glucose transporter family (GLUTs) and sodium/vitamin C cotransporter family (SVCT1 and SVCT2). There is so far scant information vis-à-vis the functional roles of SVCTs in testis, although they possess higher affinity for transportation of AA compared to GLUTs. To analyze the biological effects of SVCT2 in testis, we assessed testicular expression of SVCT2 in different experimental settings and the effect of SVCT2 ablation on spermatogenesis. Persistent expression of SVCT2 was shown in the mouse testis at different stages of postnatal development, demonstrated on day 14 of testicular development in mice consistent with appearance of pachytene spermatocytes during the first wave of spermatogenesis. Testicular expression of SVCT2 was enriched in the cytoplasm of murine Sertoli cells (SCs). We then showed that in vivo inhibition of SVCT2 in mouse testis significantly impaired male fertility by causing oligozoospermia and asthenospermia, which mainly stemmed from a deficiency in lactate production. By generating the TM4SVCT2-/- cells and by profiling TM4SVCT2-/- cells with a constitutively activated HIF-1α mutant, we demonstrated that SVCT2 deficiency led to impaired lactate synthesis and reduced expression of Ldha mRNA in SCs. Mechanistically, ablation of SVCT2 resulted in ubiquitination and subsequent degradation of HIF-1α protein in the FSH-stimulated SCs. Collectively, our data document a novel testicular site of action of SVCT2 in the control of lactate synthesis by SCs, probably via ubiquitination-dependent regulation of HIF-1α stability.