Androgen Receptor Localizes to Plasma Membrane by Binding to Caveolin-1 in Mouse Sertoli Cells
In the classical signaling pathway, testosterone regulates gene expression by activating the cytosolic/nuclear androgen receptor. In the non-classical pathway, testosterone activates cytosolic signaling cascades that are normally triggered by growth factors. The nature of the receptor involved in this signaling pathway is a source of controversy. In the Sertoli cell line 93RS2, which lacks the classical AR, we determined that testosterone stimulates the non-classical signaling pathway, characterized by the phosphorylation of Erk1/2 and transcription factors CREB and ATF-1. We also demonstrated that testosterone increases the expression of the tight junction (TJ) proteins claudin-1 and claudin-5. Both of these proteins are known to be essential constituents of TJs between Sertoli cells, and as a consequence of their increased expression transepithelial resistance across Sertoli cell monolayers is increased. ZIP9 is a Zn(2+)transporter that was recently shown to be a membrane-bound testosterone receptor. Silencing its expression in 93RS2 Sertoli cells by siRNA completely prevents Erk1/2, CREB, and ATF-1 phosphorylation as well the stimulation of claudin-1 and -5 expression and TJ formation between neighboring cells. The study presented here demonstrates for the first time that in Sertoli cells testosterone acts through the receptor ZIP9 to trigger the non-classical signaling cascade, resulting in increased claudin expression and TJ formation. Since TJ formation is a prerequisite for the maintenance of the blood-testis barrier, the testosterone/ZIP9 effects might be significant for male physiology. Further assessment of these interactions will help to supplement our knowledge concerning the mechanism by which testosterone plays a role in male fertility.