Regulated assembly of connexin33 and connexin43 into rat Sertoli cell gap junctions

Biol Reprod. 1996 Jun;54(6):1300-10. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod54.6.1300.


Immunofluorescence and immunogold electron microscopy were employed to examine the assembly of connexins (Cx) 33, 37, and 43 into testis cell gap junctions in mature and postnatal rats. Cx37 was localized by immunofluorescence to the endothelia of blood vessels in both mature and immature testes and was not further characterized. Only Cx43 assembled into Leydig cell gap junctions, but Cx43 also co-assembled with Cx33 in some Sertoli-Sertoli gap junction plaques within and near Sertoli occluding junctions and on adluminal surfaces Assembly of Sertoli gap junctions appeared to be regulated according to the stage of the seminiferous epithelium since Cx33 (and Cx43) immunoreactivity was strong in Sertoli cells from stages II-VII but weak in stages IX-XIV. During postnatal maturation, assembly of Cx33 into gap junctions was regulated independently of Cx43 assembly. Cx43 was present on Sertoli cells of all tubules from postnatal Day 5 through Day 28. In contrast, Cx33 was not apparent on Sertoli cell surfaces until Day 15 and gradually accumulated in all tubules through Day 28. Between postnatal Days 38 and 43, the immunoreactivities of Cx33 and Cx43 became weak in Sertoli cells containing step 9-14 elongated spermatids. Thus, connexin abundance and gap junction composition in Sertoli cells is regulated during testis maturation and the cycle of the seminiferous epithelium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Connexin 43 / biosynthesis*
  • Connexins / biosynthesis*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Direct
  • Gap Junctions / metabolism*
  • Gap Junctions / ultrastructure
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Leydig Cells / metabolism
  • Leydig Cells / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • Seminiferous Epithelium / cytology
  • Seminiferous Epithelium / metabolism
  • Seminiferous Epithelium / ultrastructure
  • Sertoli Cells / metabolism*
  • Sertoli Cells / ultrastructure
  • Testis / growth & development
  • Testis / metabolism*
  • Testis / ultrastructure


  • Connexin 43
  • Connexins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Gja6 protein, rat