Tricellulin and its role in the epididymal epithelium of the rat

Biol Reprod. 2015 Mar;92(3):66. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod.114.120824. Epub 2015 Jan 7.


Tricellulin is a tight-junction protein present at tricellular tight junctions. It has been suggested that basal cells are implicated in the blood-epididymis barrier. Basal cells express claudins, a component of tight junctions; however, there is no information regarding the potential architecture or regulation of basal cell-principal cell interactions. The present objectives were to determine the expression and localization of tricellulin in rat epididymis in relation to occludin, basal cell-principal cell interactions, and other junctional proteins. Tricellulin levels were similar in all segments of the adult epididymis, and the protein was localized to the apical region of the epithelium. Postnatal development showed that tricellulin levels increased with age and localization changed from cytoplasmic to membrane-bound as a function of age. Colocalization with occludin indicated that both proteins are in the region of the tight junction. In the initial segment, the proteins did not colocalize compared to the epididymis where they were both colocalized. Tricellulin did not colocalize with cytokeratin 5, a marker of basal cells, in any region of the epididymis, including the corpus and cauda epididymidis, where apical projections of basal cells were apparent. Tricellulin knockdown studies using small interfering RNA in rat caput epididymal principal cells resulted in decreased transepithelial resistance and was correlated with decreased levels of Cldn3, Cldn1, and occludin. Tight-junction protein1, also known as ZO-1, and cadherin1 levels were unchanged. This is the first report of tricellulin in the epididymis and on the interaction between tricellulin and other tight-junction proteins.

Keywords: barrier; basal cells; claudins; epididymis; male reproductive tract; sperm maturation; tight junctions; tricellulin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epididymis / cytology
  • Epididymis / physiology*
  • Epithelium / physiology
  • Keratin-5 / physiology
  • MARVEL Domain Containing 2 Protein / drug effects
  • MARVEL Domain Containing 2 Protein / physiology*
  • Male
  • Models, Animal
  • Occludin / physiology
  • RNA, Small Interfering / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Tight Junction Proteins / physiology*
  • Tight Junctions / drug effects
  • Tight Junctions / physiology*


  • Keratin-5
  • MARVEL Domain Containing 2 Protein
  • Occludin
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Tight Junction Proteins