14-3-3 protein regulates cell adhesion in the seminiferous epithelium of rat testes
Polarity proteins have been implicated in regulating and maintaining tight junction (TJ) and cell polarity in epithelia. Here we report 14-3-3θ, the homolog of Caenorhabditis elegans Par5 in mammalian cells, which is known to confer cell polarity at TJ, is found at the apical ectoplasmic specialization (ES), a testis-specific adherens junction type restricted to the Sertoli cell-elongating spermatid interface, in which TJ is absent. 14-3-3θ was shown to play a critical role in conferring cell adhesion at the apical ES. A loss of 14-3-3θ expression at the apical ES was detected in the seminiferous epithelium before spermiation. Involvement of 14-3-3θ in Sertoli cell adhesion was confirmed by its knockdown by RNA interference in Sertoli cells cultured in vitro with established TJ permeability barrier that mimicked the blood-testis barrier (BTB) in vivo. Mislocalization of N-cadherin and zonula occludens-1, but not α- and β-catenins, was observed after 14-3-3θ knockdown in Sertoli cells, moving from the cell-cell interface to cytosol, indicating a disruption of cell adhesion. Studies by endocytosis assay illustrated that this loss of cell adhesion was mediated by an increase in the kinetics of endocytosis of N-cadherin and junctional adhesion molecule-A at the BTB, which may represent a general mechanism by which polarity proteins regulate cell adhesion. In summary, the testis is using 14-3-3θ to regulate cell adhesion at the apical ES to facilitate spermiation and at the BTB to facilitate the transit of preleptotene spermatocytes at stages VIII-IX of the epithelial cycle. 14-3-3θ may act as a molecular switch that coordinates these two cellular events in the seminiferous epithelium during spermatogenesis.
Wong, Elissa W.P., Shengyi Sun, Michelle W.M. Li, Will M. Lee, and C. Yan Cheng. 2009. "14-3-3 protein regulates cell adhesion in the seminiferous epithelium of rat testes," Endocrinology 150(10): 4713–4723.