Regulation of spermiogenesis, spermiation and blood-testis barrier dynamics: Novel insights from studies on Eps8 and Arp3

Document Type

Article (peer-reviewed)

Publication Date



Spermiogenesis in the mammalian testis is the most critical post-meiotic developmental event occurring during spermatogenesis in which haploid spermatids undergo extensive cellular, molecular and morphological changes to form spermatozoa. Spermatozoa are then released from the seminiferous epithelium at spermiation. At the same time, the BTB (blood-testis barrier) undergoes restructuring to facilitate the transit of preleptotene spermatocytes from the basal to the apical compartment. Thus meiotic divisions take place behind the BTB in the apical compartment to form spermatids. These germ cells enter spermiogenesis to transform into elongating spermatids and then into spermatozoa to replace those that were released in the previous cycle. However, themolecular regulators that control spermiogenesis, in particular the dynamic changes that occur at the Sertoli cell-spermatid interface and at the BTB, are not entirely known. This is largely due to the lack of suitable animal models which can be used to study these events. During the course of our investigation to develop adjudin [1-(2,4-dichlorobenzyl)-1H-indazole-3-carbohydrazide] as a potential male contraceptive, this drug was shown to 'accelerate' spermiation by inducing the release of premature spermatids from the epithelium. Using this model, we have identified several molecules that are crucial in regulating the actin filament network and the unique adhesion protein complex at the Sertoli cell-spermatid interface known as the apical ES (ectoplasmic specialization). In the present review, we critically evaluate these and other findings in the literature as they relate to the restricted temporal and spatial expression of two actin regulatory proteins, namely Eps8 (epidermal growth factor receptor pathway substrate 8) and Arp3 (actin-related protein 3), which regulate these events.






The Biology of Blood–Testis Barrier Dynamics