Actin-related intercellular adhesion junctions in the germinal compartment of the testis in the hagfish (Eptatretus stouti) and lamprey (Lampetra tridentatus).


The germinal epithelium of male vertebrates consists of Sertoli cells and spermatogenic cells. Intercellular junctions formed by Sertoli cells assume critical roles in the normal functions of this epithelium. While Sertoli cell junctions have been well characterized in mammals, similar junctions in nonmammalian vertebrates have received little attention. We examined the intercellular junctions found within the germinal epithelium of the hagfish (Eptatretus stouti) and lamprey (Lampetra tridentatus). Ultrastructurally, Sertoli cells were seen to form filament-associated junctions in both species. Adjacent Sertoli cells formed microfilament-related junctions near their apices. Filaments of these junctions were arranged in loose networks and were not associated with cisterns of endoplasmic reticulum. In fixed, frozen sections of hagfish testis, similar areas labeled with rhodamine phalloidin, indicating the filament type is actin. In the lamprey, desmosomes were observed immediately below the microfilament-related junctions. In appearance and location, the Sertoli cell junctions observed in these species resembled those of the typical junctional complex of other epithelial cell types. No junctions were observed between Sertoli cells and elongating spermatids. In the hagfish, but not the lamprey, an additional zone of microfilaments occurred near the base of Sertoli cells in areas of association with the basal lamina. Our observations are consistent with the proposal that the unique forms of intercellular attachment found in the testes of higher vertebrates evolved from a typical epithelial form of intercellular junction.


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@article{Pfeiffer2002ActinrelatedIA, title={Actin-related intercellular adhesion junctions in the germinal compartment of the testis in the hagfish (Eptatretus stouti) and lamprey (Lampetra tridentatus).}, author={D C Pfeiffer and A W Vogl}, journal={Tissue & cell}, year={2002}, volume={34 6}, pages={450-9} }