Published for the American Society of Andrology by the J.B. Lippincott Co.
Journal of Andrology vol:30 issue:3 pages:338-348
Testosterone acting through the androgen receptor (AR) maintains the arrest of spermatogonial differentiation in juvenile spermatogonial depletion (jsd mutation in the Utp14b gene) mutant adult male mice. It is not known which of the somatic cell types expressing AR mediates this inhibition. To determine whether Sertoli cells are responsible, we selectively eliminated AR in Sertoli cells in jsd mice containing a floxed-Ar gene and an anti-Mullerian hormone-Cre transgene. In these Sertoli AR-knockout (SCARKO)-jsd mice, spermatogonial differentiation did not recover. However, the normal organization of Sertoli cell nuclei was drastically disrupted in SCARKO-jsd mice compared with SCARKO or jsd mice. In addition, the extent of ectoplasmic specializations was reduced; tight junctions were not found; vinculin, an anchoring protein found in ectoplasmic specializations, became uniformly distributed in the cytoplasm; and the adult Sertoli cells showed excess heterochromatin subjacent to their nuclear envelope. Despite the abnormalities in Sertoli cells in SCARKO-jsd mice, global suppression of testosterone action and levels was still effective in restoring the differentiated germ cells, and this was accompanied by an improved arrangement of Sertoli cell nuclei. We conclude that Sertoli cells are not targets for the testosterone-mediated inhibition of spermatogonial differentiation in jsd mice, and that both AR in Sertoli cells and the presence of differentiated germ cells contribute to maintaining the organization of Sertoli cells within the seminiferous tubules.