Vangl2 regulates spermatid planar cell polarity through microtubule (MT)-based cytoskeleton in the rat testis

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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During spermatogenesis, developing elongating/elongated spermatids are highly polarized cells, displaying unique apico-basal polarity. For instance, the heads of spermatids align perpendicular to the basement membrane with their tails pointing to the tubule lumen. Thus, the maximal number of spermatids are packed within the limited space of the seminiferous epithelium to support spermatogenesis. Herein, we reported findings that elongating/elongated spermatids displayed planar cell polarity (PCP) in adult rat testes in which the proximal end of polarized spermatid heads were aligned uniformly across the plane of the seminiferous epithelium based on studies using confocal microscopy and 3-dimensional (D) reconstruction of the seminiferous tubules. We also discovered that spermatid PCP was regulated by PCP protein Vangl2 (Van Gogh-like protein 2) since Vangl2 knockdown by RNAi was found to perturb spermatid PCP. More important, Vangl2 exerted its regulatory effects through changes in the organization of the microtubule (MT)-based cytoskeleton in the seminiferous epithelium. These changes were mediated via the downstream signaling proteins atypical protein kinase C ξ (PKCζ) and MT-associated protein (MAP)/microtubule affinity-regulating kinase 2 (MARK2). These findings thus provide new insights regarding the biology of spermatid PCP during spermiogenesis.