Actin cross-linking protein palladin and spermatogenesis

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Article (peer-reviewed)

Publication Date



In the seminiferous epithelium of the mammalian testis, the most distinctive ultrastructure is the extensive bundles of actin filaments that lie near the Sertoli–spermatid interface and the Sertoli–Sertoli cell interface known as the apical ectoplasmic specialization (apical ES) and the basal ES, respectively. These actin filament bundles not only confer strong adhesion at these sites, they are uniquely found in the testis. Recent studies have shown that ES also confers spermatid and Sertoli cell polarity in the seminiferous epithelium during the epithelial cycle. While these junctions were first described in the 1970s, there are few functional studies in the literature to examine the regulation of these actin filament bundles. It is conceivable that these actin filament bundles at the ES undergo extensive re-organization to accommodate changes in location of developing spermatids during spermiogenesis as spermatids are transported across the seminiferous epithelium. Additionally, these actin filaments are rapidly reorganized during BTB restructuring to accommodate the transit of preleptotene spermatocytes across the barrier at stage VIII of the epithelial cycle. Thus, actin binding and regulatory proteins are likely involved in these events to confer changes in F-actin organization at these sites. Interestingly, there are no reports in the field to study these regulatory proteins until recently. Herein, we summarize some of the latest findings in the field regarding a novel actin cross-linker and actin-bundling protein called palladin. We also discuss in this opinion article the likely role of palladin in regulating actin filament bundles at the ES during spermatogenesis, highlighting the significant of palladin and how this protein is plausibly working in concert with other actin-binding/regulatory proteins and components of polarity proteins to regulate the cyclic events of actin organization and re-organization during the epithelial cycle of spermatogenesis. We also propose a hypothetic model by which palladin regulates ES restructuring during the epithelial cycle of spermatogenesis.