Regulation of microtubule (MT)-based cytoskeleton in the seminiferous epithelium during spermatogenesis

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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In rodents and humans, testicular cells, similar to other mammalian cells, are supported by actin-, microtubule (MT)- and intermediate filament-based cytoskeletons to regulate spermatogenesis during the epithelial cycle. However, most of the published findings in the literature are limited to studies that visualize these cytoskeletons in the seminiferous epithelium during spermatogenesis. Few are focus on the underlying molecular mechanism that regulates their organization in the epithelium in response to changes in the stages of the epithelial cycle remains largely explored. Functional studies in the last decade have begun to focus on the role of binding proteins that regulate these cytoskeletons, and some interesting data have been rapidly emerging in the field. Since the actin- and intermediate-based cytoskeletons have been recently reviewed, herein we focus on the MT-based cytoskeleton for two reasons. First, besides serving as a structural support cytoskeleton, MT is known to serve as the track to support and facilitate the transport of germ cells, such as preleptotene spermatocytes connected in clones and elongating/elongated spermatids during spermiogenesis across the blood-testis barrier (BTB) and the adluminal compartment, respectively, during spermatogenesis. While these cellular events are crucial to the completion of spermatogenesis, they have been largely ignored in the past. Second, MT-based cytoskeleton is working in concert with the actin-based cytoskeleton to provide structural support to the transport of intracellular organelles across the cell cytosol, such as endosome-based vesicles, and residual bodies, phagosomes in Sertoli cells, to maintain the cellular homeostasis in the seminiferous epithelium. We critically evaluate some recent published findings herein to support a hypothesis regarding the role of MT in conferring germ cell transport in the seminiferous epithelium.