The microtubule plus end-binding protein EB1 is involved in Sertoli cell plasticity in testicular seminiferous tubules

Exp Cell Res. 2008 Jan 1;314(1):213-26. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2007.09.022. Epub 2007 Oct 5.


Sertoli cells of testis belong to a unique type of polarized epithelial cells and are essential for spermatogenesis. They form the blood-testis barrier at the base of seminiferous tubule. Their numerous long, microtubule-rich processes extend inward and associate with developing germ cells to sustain germ cell growth and differentiation. How Sertoli cells develop and maintain their elaborate processes has been an intriguing question. Here we showed that, by microinjecting lentiviral preparations into mouse testes of 29 days postpartum, we were able to specifically label individual Sertoli cells with GFP, thus achieving a clear view of their natural configurations together with associated germ cells in situ. Moreover, compared to other microtubule plus end-tracking proteins such as CLIP-170 and p150(Glued), EB1 was highly expressed in Sertoli cells and located along microtubule bundles in Sertoli cell processes. Stable overexpression of a GFP-tagged dominant-negative EB1 mutant disrupted microtubule organizations in cultured Sertoli cells. Furthermore, its overexpression in testis Sertoli cells altered their shapes. Sertoli cells in situ became rod-like, with decreased basal and lateral cell processes. Seminiferous tubule circularity and germ cell number were also reduced. These data indicate a requirement of proper microtubule arrays for Sertoli cell plasticity and function in testis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Polarity / physiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Germ Cells / cytology
  • Germ Cells / growth & development
  • Germ Cells / metabolism
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / genetics
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism*
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Microtubules / ultrastructure
  • Protein Binding / physiology
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Seminiferous Tubules / cytology
  • Seminiferous Tubules / growth & development
  • Seminiferous Tubules / metabolism*
  • Sertoli Cells / cytology
  • Sertoli Cells / metabolism*
  • Spermatogonia / cytology
  • Spermatogonia / growth & development
  • Spermatogonia / metabolism
  • Testis / cytology
  • Testis / growth & development
  • Testis / metabolism*


  • EB1 microtubule binding proteins
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • green fluorescent protein, Aequorea victoria
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins