Immunohistochemical study of a membrane skeletal molecule, protein 4.1G, in mouse seminiferous tubules
An in vivo model was used to investigate the regulation of tight junction (TJ) dynamics in the testis when adult rats were treated with CdCl(2). It was shown that the CdCl(2)-induced disruption of the blood-testis barrier (BTB) associated with a transient induction in testicular TGF-beta2 and TGF-beta3 (but not TGF-beta1) and the phosphorylated p38 mitogen activated protein (MAP) kinase, concomitant with a loss of occludin and zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1) from the BTB site in the seminiferous epithelium. These results suggest that BTB dynamics in vivo are regulated by TGF-beta2/-beta3 via the p38 MAP kinase pathway. Indeed, SB202190, a specific p38 MAP kinase inhibitor, blocked the CdCl(2)-induced occludin and ZO-1 loss from the BTB. This result clearly illustrates that CdCl(2) mediates its BTB disruptive effects via the TGF-beta3/p38 MAP kinase signaling pathway. Besides, this CdCl(2)-induced occludin and ZO-1 loss from the BTB also associated with a significant loss of the cadherin/catenin and the nectin/afadin protein complexes at the site of cell-cell actin-based adherens junctions (AJs). An induction of alpha(2)-macroglobulin (a non-specific protease inhibitor) was also observed during BTB damage and when the seminiferous epithelium was being depleted of germ cells. These data illustrate that a primary disruption of the BTB can lead to a secondary loss of cell adhesion function at the site of AJs, concomitant with an induction in protease inhibitor, which apparently is used to protect the epithelium from unwanted proteolysis. alpha(2)-Macroglobulin was also shown to associate physically with TGF-beta3, afadin and nectin 3, but not occludin, E-cadherin or N-cadherin, indicating its possible role in junction restructuring in vivo. Additionally, the use of SB202190 to block the TGF-beta3/p-38 MAP kinase pathway also prevented the CdCl(2)-induced loss of cadherin/catenin and nectin/afadin protein complexes from the AJ sites, yet it had no apparent effect on alpha(2)-macroglobulin. These results demonstrate for the first time that the TGF-beta3/p38 MAP kinase signaling pathway is being used to regulate both TJ and AJ dynamics in the testis, mediated by the effects of TGF-beta3 on TJ- and AJ-integral membrane proteins and adaptors, but not protease inhibitors.