Microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs) in microtubule cytoskeletal dynamics and spermatogenesis

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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The microtubule (MT) cytoskeleton in Sertoli cells, a crucial cellular structure in the seminiferous epithelium of adult mammalian testes that supports spermatogenesis, was studied morphologically decades ago. However, its biology, in particular the involving regulatory biomolecules and the underlying mechanism(s) in modulating MT dynamics, are only beginning to be revealed in recent years. This lack of studies in delineating the biology of MT cytoskeletal dynamics undermines other studies in the field, in particular the plausible therapeutic treatment and management of male infertility and fertility since studies have shown that the MT cytoskeleton is one of the prime targets of toxicants. Interestingly, much of the information regarding the function of actin-, MT- and intermediate filament-based cytoskeletons come from studies using toxicant models including some genetic models. During the past several years, there have been some advances in studying the biology of MT cytoskeleton in the testis, and many of these studies were based on the use of pharmaceutical/toxicant models. In this review, we summarize the results of these findings, illustrating the importance of toxicant/pharmaceutical models in unravelling the biology of MT dynamics, in particular the role of microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs), a family of regulatory proteins that modulate MT dynamics but also actin- and intermediate filament-based cytoskeletons. We also provide a timely hypothetical model which can serve as a guide to design functional experiments to study how the MT cytoskeleton is regulated during spermatogenesis through the use of toxicants and/or pharmaceutical agents.