Regulation of sertoli-germ cell adherens junction dynamics via changes in protein-protein interactions of the N-cadherin-β-catenin protein complex which are possibly mediated by c-Src and myotubularin-related protein 2: An in vivo study using an androgen suppression model

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Using a well characterized model of cell-cell actin-based adherens junction (AJ) disruption by suppressing the intratesticular testosterone level in adult rats with testosterone-estradiol implants, we have confirmed earlier findings that Sertoli-germ cell AJ dynamics are regulated by the activation of kinases via putative signaling pathways but with some unexpected findings as follows. First, the loss of germ cells from the seminiferous epithelium during androgen suppression was associated with a surge in myotubularin-related protein 2 (MTMR2, a lipid phosphatase, in which adult MTMH2-/- mice were recently shown to be azoospermic because of the loss of cell adhesion function between germ and Sertoli cells); kinases: phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, c-Src, and C-terminal Src kinase; adaptors: α-actinin, vinculin, afadin, and p130 Crk-associated protein; and AJ-integral membrane proteins at the ectoplasmic specialization (ES, a testis-specific cell-cell actin-based AJ type) site: N-cadherin, β-catenin, integrin β1, and nectin 3. Second, MTMR2, instead of structurally interacting with phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, a protein and lipid kinase, was shown to associate only with c-Src, a nonreceptor protein tyrosine kinase, as demonstrated by both coimmunoprecipitation and fluorescent microscopy at the site of apical ES, but none of the kinases, adaptors, and AJ-infegral proteins that were examined. Collectively, these results suggest that the MTMR2/c-Src is an important phosphatase/kinase protein pair in AJ dynamics in the testis. Because c-Src is known to associate with the cadherin/catenin protein complex at the ES in the testis, we next sought to investigate any changes in the protein-protein interactions of this protein complex during androgen suppression-induced germ cell loss. Indeed, there was a loss of N-cadherin and β-catenin association, accompanied by a surge in Tyr phosphorylation of β-catenin, during germ cell loss from the epithelium. Third, and perhaps the most important of all, during natural recovery of the epithelium after removal of testosterene-estradiol implants when spermatids were reattaching to Sertoli cells, an increase in N-cadherin and β-catenin association was detected with a concomitant loss in the increased Tyr phosphorylation in β-catenin. In summary, these results illustrate that the cadherin/catenin is a crucial cell adhesion complex that regulates AJ dynamics in the testis, and its functionality is likely modulated by the MTMR2/c-Src protein complex.






Probing Studies in Male Contraception