NC1‐peptide regulates spermatogenesis through changes in cytoskeletal organization mediated by EB1

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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During the epithelial cycle of spermatogenesis, different sets of cellular events take place across the seminiferous epithelium in the testis. For instance, remodeling of the blood‐testis barrier (BTB) that facilitates the transport of preleptotene spermatocytes across the immunological barrier and the release of sperms at spermiation take place at the opposite ends of the epithelium simultaneously at stage VIII of the epithelial cycle. These cellular events are tightly coordinated via locally produced regulatory biomolecules. Studies have shown that collagen α3 (IV) chains, a major constituent component of the basement membrane, release the non‐collagenous (NC) 1 domain, a 28‐kDa peptide, designated NC1‐peptide, from the C‐terminal region, via the action of MMP‐9 (matrix metalloproteinase 9). NC1‐peptide was found to be capable of inducing BTB remodeling and spermatid release across the epithelium. As such, the NC1‐peptide is an endogenously produced biologically active peptide which coordinates these cellular events across the epithelium in stage VIII tubules. Herein, we used an animal model, wherein NC1‐peptide cloned into the pCI‐neo mammalian expression vector was overexpressed in the testis, to better understanding the molecular mechanism by which NC1‐peptide regulated spermatogenic function. It was shown that NC1‐peptide induced considerable downregulation on a number of cell polarity and planar cell polarity (PCP) proteins, and studies have shown these polarity and PCP proteins modulate spermatid polarity and adhesion via their effects on microtubule (MT) and F‐actin cytoskeletal organization across the epithelium. More important, NC1‐peptide exerted its effects by downregulating the expression of microtubule (MT) plus‐end tracking protein (+TIP) called EB1 (end‐binding protein 1). We cloned the full‐length EB1 cDNA for its overexpression in the testis, which was found to block the NC1‐peptide‐mediated disruptive effects on cytoskeletal organization in Sertoli cell epithelium and pertinent Sertoli cell functions. These findings thus illustrate that NC1‐peptide is working in concert with EB1 to support spermatogenesis.