Altered expression of ZO-1 and ZO-2 in Sertoli cells and loss of blood-testis barrier integrity in testicular carcinoma in situ

Neoplasia. 2006 Dec;8(12):1019-27. doi: 10.1593/neo.06559.


Carcinoma in situ (CIS) is the noninvasive precursor of most human testicular germ cell tumors. In normal seminiferous epithelium, specialized tight junctions between Sertoli cells constitute the major component of the blood-testis barrier. Sertoli cells associated with CIS exhibit impaired maturation status, but their functional significance remains unknown. The aim was to determine whether the blood-testis barrier is morphologically and/or functionally altered. We investigated the expression and distribution pattern of the tight junction proteins zonula occludens (ZO) 1 and 2 in normal seminiferous tubules compared to tubules showing CIS. In normal tubules, ZO-1 and ZO-2 immunostaining was observed at the blood-testis barrier region of adjacent Sertoli cells. Within CIS tubules, ZO-1 and ZO-2 immunoreactivity was reduced at the blood-testis barrier region, but spread to stain the Sertoli cell cytoplasm. Western blot analysis confirmed ZO-1 and ZO-2, and their respective mRNA were shown by RT-PCR. Additionally, we assessed the functional integrity of the blood-testis barrier by lanthanum tracer study. Lanthanum permeated tight junctions in CIS tubules, indicating disruption of the blood-testis barrier. In conclusion, Sertoli cells associated with CIS show an altered distribution of ZO-1 and ZO-2 and lose their blood-testis barrier function.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood-Testis Barrier / metabolism*
  • Blood-Testis Barrier / physiopathology
  • Blood-Testis Barrier / ultrastructure
  • Carcinoma in Situ / genetics
  • Carcinoma in Situ / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma in Situ / ultrastructure
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Middle Aged
  • Phosphoproteins / biosynthesis*
  • Phosphoproteins / genetics
  • Sertoli Cells / metabolism*
  • Sertoli Cells / ultrastructure
  • Testicular Neoplasms / genetics
  • Testicular Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Testicular Neoplasms / ultrastructure
  • Zonula Occludens-1 Protein
  • Zonula Occludens-2 Protein


  • Membrane Proteins
  • Phosphoproteins
  • TJP1 protein, human
  • TJP2 protein, human
  • Zonula Occludens-1 Protein
  • Zonula Occludens-2 Protein