Sertoli cells are important for spermatogenesis not only by directly interacting with germ line cells in the seminiferous epithelium but also by constituting the blood-testis barrier (BTB) structure to create a favorable environment for spermatogenesis. Blind sterile (bs) male mice are infertile, with excessive germ cell apoptosis and spermatogenesis arrest. TBC1D20 (TBC1 domain family member 20) deficiency has been identified as the causative mutation in bs mice. However, whether TBC1D20 loss of function also impairs BTB integrity, which further contributes to the failed spermatogenesis of bs male mice, remains unclear. In the present study, biotin tracer assay and transmission electron microscopy showed severely disrupted BTB integrity in bs testes. Compared to the wild-type Sertoli cells, BTB components of cultured bs Sertoli cells in vitro was perturbed with downregulation of E-cadherin, ZO-1, β-catenin, and Claudin 11. The obvious rearrangement of F-actin indicated disrupted epithelial-mesenchymal balance in TBC1D20-deficient Sertoli cells. The ability of bs Sertoli cells to maintain the clone formation of spermatogonia stem cells was also obviously limited. Furthermore, the decreasing of SOX9 (sex-determining region Y box 9) and WT1 (Wilms’ tumor 1) and increasing of vimentin in bs Sertoli cells indicated that TBC1D20 loss of function attenuated the differentiation progression of bs Sertoli cells. In summary, TBC1D20 loss of function impedes the maturation of adult Sertoli cells and resulted in impaired BTB integrity, which is further implicated in the infertile phenotype of bs male mice.
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- ENDO: 2020ENDO 2020 Annual Conference has been canceled due to COVID-19. Here are highlights of emerging data that has still been released. Keep an eye out for ENDO Online 2020, which will take place from June 8 to 22.