Publications by authors named "Bruno Silvestrini"

51 Publications

Planar cell polarity (PCP) proteins support spermatogenesis through cytoskeletal organization in the testis.

Semin Cell Dev Biol 2021 May 29. Epub 2021 May 29.

The Second Affiliated Hospital and Yuying Children's Hospital, Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, Zhejiang 325027, China. Electronic address:

Few reports are found in the literature regarding the role of planar cell polarity (PCP) in supporting spermatogenesis in the testis. Yet morphological studies reported decades earlier have illustrated the directional alignment of polarized developing spermatids, most notably step 17-19 spermatids in stage V-early VIII tubules in the testis, across the plane of the epithelium in seminiferous tubules of adult rats. Such morphological features have unequivocally demonstrated the presence of PCP in developing spermatids, analogous to the PCP noted in hair cells of the cochlea in mammals. Emerging evidence in recent years has shown that Sertoli and germ cells express numerous PCP proteins, mostly notably, the core PCP proteins, PCP effectors and PCP signaling proteins. In this review, we discuss recent findings in the field regarding the two core PCP protein complexes, namely the Van Gogh-like 2 (Vangl2)/Prickle (Pk) complex and the Frizzled (Fzd)/Dishevelled (Dvl) complex. These findings have illustrated that these PCP proteins exert their regulatory role to support spermatogenesis through changes in the organization of actin and microtubule (MT) cytoskeletons in Sertoli cells. For instance, these PCP proteins confer PCP to developing spermatids. As such, developing haploid spermatids can be aligned and orderly packed within the limited space of the seminiferous tubules in the testes for the production of sperm via spermatogenesis. Thus, each adult male in the mouse, rat or human can produce an upward of 30, 50 or 300 million spermatozoa on a daily basis, respectively, throughout the adulthood. We also highlight critical areas of research that deserve attention in future studies. We also provide a hypothetical model by which PCP proteins support spermatogenesis based on recent studies in the testis. It is conceivable that the hypothetical model shown here will be updated as more data become available in future years, but this information can serve as the framework by investigators to unravel the role of PCP in spermatogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.semcdb.2021.04.008DOI Listing
May 2021

A laminin-based local regulatory network in the testis that supports spermatogenesis.

Semin Cell Dev Biol 2021 Apr 17. Epub 2021 Apr 17.

The Second Affiliated Hospital and Yuying Children's Hospital, Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, Zhejiang 325027, China; Institute of Reproductive Medicine, Nantong University School of Medicine, Nantong, Jiangsu 226001, China. Electronic address:

In adult rat testes, the basement membrane is structurally constituted by laminin and collagen chains that lay adjacent to the blood-testis barrier (BTB). It plays a crucial scaffolding role to support spermatogenesis. On the other hand, laminin-333 comprised of laminin-α3/ß3/γ3 at the apical ES (ectoplasmic specialization, a testis-specific cell-cell adherens junction at the Sertoli cell-step 8-19 spermatid interface) expressed by spermatids serves as a unique cell adhesion protein that forms an adhesion complex with α6ß1-integrin expressed by Sertoli cells to support spermiogenesis. Emerging evidence has shown that biologically active fragments are derived from basement membrane and apical ES laminin chains through proteolytic cleavage mediated by matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9) and MMP2, respectively. Two of these laminin bioactive fragments: one from the basement membrane laminin-α2 chain called LG3/4/5-peptide, and one from the apical ES laminin-γ3 chain known as F5-peptide, are potent regulators that modify cell adhesion function at the Sertoli-spermatid interface (i.e., apical ES) but also at the Sertoli cell-cell interface designated basal ES at the blood-testis barrier (BTB) with contrasting effects. These findings not only highlight the physiological significance of these bioactive peptides that create a local regulatory network to support spermatogenesis, they also open a unique area of research. For instance, it is likely that several other bioactive peptides remain to be identified. These bioactive peptides including their downstream signaling proteins and cascades should be studied collectively in future investigations to elucidate the underlying mechanism(s) by which they coordinate with each other to maintain spermatogenesis. This is the goal of this review.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.semcdb.2021.03.025DOI Listing
April 2021

mTORC1/rpS6 and p-FAK-Y407 signaling regulate spermatogenesis: Insights from studies of the adjudin pharmaceutical/toxicant model.

Semin Cell Dev Biol 2021 Apr 15. Epub 2021 Apr 15.

The Second Affiliated Hospital and Yuying Children's Hospital, Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, Zhejiang 325027, China; Institute of Reproductive Medicine, Nantong University School of Medicine, Nantong, Jiangsu 226001, China; The Population Council, Center for Biomedical Research, 1230 York Ave, New York, NY 10065, United States. Electronic address:

In rodents and humans, the major cellular events at spermatogenesis include self-renewal of spermatogonial stem cells and undifferentiated spermatogonia via mitosis, commitment of spermatogonia to differentiation and transformation to spermatocytes, meiosis, spermiogenesis, and the release of spermatozoa at spermiation. While details of the morphological changes during these cellular events have been delineated, knowledge gap exists between the morphological changes in the seminiferous epithelium and the underlying molecular mechanism(s) that regulate these cellular events. Even though many of the regulatory proteins and biomolecules that modulate spermatogenesis are known based on studies using genetic models, the underlying regulatory mechanism(s), in particular signaling pathways/proteins, remain unexplored since much of the information regarding the signaling regulation is unknown. Studies in the past decade, however, have unequivocally demonstrated that the testis is using several signaling proteins and/or pathways to regulate multiple cellular events to modulate spermatogenesis. These include mTORC1/rpS6/Akt1/2 and p-FAK-Y407. While selective inhibitors and/or agonists and antagonists are available to examine some of these signaling proteins, their use have limitations due to their specificities and also potential systemic cytotoxicity. On the other hand, the use of genetic models has had profound implications for our understanding of the molecular regulation of spermatogenesis, and these knockout (null) models have also revealed the factors that are critical for spermatogenesis. Nonetheless, additional studies using in vitro and in vivo models are necessary to unravel the signaling pathways involved in regulating seminiferous epithelial cycle. Emerging data from studies, such as the use of the adjudin pharmaceutical/toxicant model, have illustrated that this non-hormonal male contraceptive drug is utilizing specific signaling pathways/proteins to induce specific defects in spermatogenesis, yielding mechanistic insights on the regulation of spermatogenesis. We sought to review these recent data in this article, highlighting an interesting approach that can be considered for future studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.semcdb.2021.03.024DOI Listing
April 2021

The Non-hormonal Male Contraceptive Adjudin Exerts its Effects via MAPs and Signaling Proteins mTORC1/rpS6 and FAK-Y407.

Endocrinology 2021 01;162(1)

The Second Affiliated Hospital and Yuying Children's Hospital, Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, Zhejiang, China.

Adjudin, 1-(2,4-dichlorobenzyl)-1H-indazole-3-carbohydrazide (formerly called AF-2364), is a nonhormonal male contraceptive, since it effectively induces reversible male infertility without perturbing the serum concentrations of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), testosterone, and inhibin B based on studies in rats and rabbits. Adjudin was shown to exert its effects preferentially by perturbing the testis-specific actin-rich adherens junction (AJ) at the Sertoli-spermatid interface known as apical ectoplasmic specialization (apical ES), thereby effectively inducing spermatid exfoliation. Adjudin did not perturb germ cell development nor germ cell function. Also, it had no effects on Sertoli cell-cell AJ called basal ectoplasmic specialization (basal ES), which, together with tight junction constitute the blood-testis barrier (BTB), unless an acute dose of adjudin was used. Adjudin also did not perturb the population of spermatogonial stem cells nor Sertoli cells in the testis. However, the downstream signaling protein(s) utilized by adjudin to induce transient male infertility remains unexplored. Herein, using adult rats treated with adjudin and monitored changes in the phenotypes across the seminiferous epithelium between 6 and 96 h in parallel with the steady-state protein levels of an array of signaling and cytoskeletal regulatory proteins, recently shown to be involved in apical ES, basal ES and BTB function. It was shown that adjudin exerts its contraceptive effects through changes in microtubule associated proteins (MAPs) and signaling proteins mTORC1/rpS6 and p-FAK-Y407. These findings are important to not only study adjudin-mediated male infertility but also the biology of spermatogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/endocr/bqaa196DOI Listing
January 2021

F5-Peptide and mTORC1/rpS6 Effectively Enhance BTB Transport Function in the Testis-Lesson From the Adjudin Model.

Endocrinology 2019 08;160(8):1832-1853

The Mary M. Wohlford Laboratory for Male Contraceptive Research, Center for Biomedical Research, Population Council, New York, New York.

During spermatogenesis, the blood-testis barrier (BTB) undergoes cyclic remodeling that is crucial to support the transport of preleptotene spermatocytes across the immunological barrier at stage VIII to IX of the epithelial cycle. Studies have shown that this timely remodeling of the BTB is supported by several endogenously produced barrier modifiers across the seminiferous epithelium, which include the F5-peptide and the ribosomal protein S6 [rpS6; a downstream signaling molecule of the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1)] signaling protein. Herein, F5-peptide and a quadruple phosphomimetic (and constitutively active) mutant of rpS6 [i.e., phosphorylated (p-)rpS6-MT] that are capable of inducing reversible immunological barrier remodeling, by making the barrier "leaky" transiently, were used for their overexpression in the testis to induce BTB opening. We sought to examine whether this facilitated the crossing of the nonhormonal male contraceptive adjudin at the BTB when administered by oral gavage, thereby effectively improving its BTB transport to induce germ cell adhesion and aspermatogenesis. Indeed, it was shown that combined overexpression of F5-peptide and p-rpS6-MT and a low dose of adjudin, which by itself had no noticeable effects on spermatogenesis, was capable of perturbing the organization of actin- and microtubule (MT)-based cytoskeletons through changes in the spatial expression of actin- and MT-binding/regulatory proteins to the corresponding cytoskeleton. These findings thus illustrate the possibility of delivering drugs to any target organ behind a blood-tissue barrier by modifying the tight junction permeability barrier using endogenously produced barrier modifiers based on findings from this adjudin animal model.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/en.2019-00308DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6637795PMC
August 2019

mTORC1/rpS6 signaling complex modifies BTB transport function: an in vivo study using the adjudin model.

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 2019 07 21;317(1):E121-E138. Epub 2019 May 21.

Mary M. Wohlford Laboratory for Male Contraceptive Research, Center for Biomedical Research, Population Council , New York, New York.

Studies have shown that the mTORC1/rpS6 signaling cascade regulates Sertoli cell blood-testis barrier (BTB) dynamics. For instance, specific inhibition of mTORC1 by treating Sertoli cells with rapamycin promotes the Sertoli cell barrier, making it "tighter." However, activation of mTORC1 by overexpressing a full-length rpS6 cDNA clone (i.e., rpS6-WT, wild type) in Sertoli cells promotes BTB remodeling, making the barrier "leaky." Also, there is an increase in rpS6 and p-rpS6 (phosphorylated and activated rpS6) expression at the BTB in testes at stages VIII-IX of the epithelial cycle, and it coincides with BTB remodeling to support the transport of preleptotene spermatocytes across the barrier, illustrating that rpS6 is a BTB-modifying signaling protein. Herein, we used a constitutively active, quadruple phosphomimetic mutant of rpS6, namely p-rpS6-MT of p-rpS6-S235E/S236E/S240E/S244E, wherein Ser (S) was converted to Glu (E) at amino acid residues 235, 236, 240, and 244 from the NH terminus by site-directed mutagenesis, for its overexpression in rat testes in vivo using the Polyplus in vivo jet-PEI transfection reagent with high transfection efficiency. Overexpression of this p-rpS6-MT was capable of inducing BTB remodeling, making the barrier "leaky." This thus promoted the entry of the nonhormonal male contraceptive adjudin into the adluminal compartment in the seminiferous epithelium to induce germ cell exfoliation. Combined overexpression of p-rpS6-MT with a male contraceptive (e.g., adjudin) potentiated the drug bioavailability by modifying the BTB. This approach thus lowers intrinsic drug toxicity due to a reduced drug dose, further characterizing the biology of BTB transport function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajpendo.00553.2018DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6689739PMC
July 2019

Physiopathology and treatment of collagen carential disease.

Minerva Med 2021 06 6;112(3):403-404. Epub 2019 May 6.

Population Council, Center for Biomedical Research, New York, NY, USA.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.23736/S0026-4806.19.06036-1DOI Listing
June 2021

CAMSAP2 Is a Microtubule Minus-End Targeting Protein That Regulates BTB Dynamics Through Cytoskeletal Organization.

Endocrinology 2019 06;160(6):1448-1467

The Mary M. Wohlford Laboratory for Male Contraceptive Research, Center for Biomedical Research, Population Council, New York, New York.

During spermatogenesis, microtubule (MT) cytoskeleton in Sertoli cells confers blood-testis barrier (BTB) function, but the regulators and mechanisms that modulate MT dynamics remain unexplored. In this study, we examined the role of calmodulin-regulated spectrin-associated protein (CAMSAP)2 (a member of the CAMSAP/Patronin protein family), and a minus-end targeting protein (-TIP) that binds to the minus-end (i.e., slow-growing end) of polarized MTs involved in determining MT length, in Sertoli cell function. CAMSAP2 was found to localize at discrete sites across the Sertoli cell cytosol, different from end-binding protein 1 (a microtubule plus-end tracking protein that binds to the plus-end of MTs), and colocalized with MTs. CAMSAP2 displayed a stage-specific expression pattern, appearing as tracklike structures across the seminiferous epithelium in adult rat testes that lay perpendicular to the basement membrane. CAMSAP2 knockdown by RNA interference was found to promote Sertoli cell tight junction (TJ) barrier function, illustrating its role in inducing TJ remodeling under physiological conditions. To further examine the regulatory role of CAMSAP2 in BTB dynamics, we used a perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS)-induced Sertoli cell injury model for investigations. CAMSAP2 knockdown blocked PFOS-induced Sertoli cell injury by promoting proper distribution of BTB-associated proteins at the cell-cell interface. This effect was mediated by the ability of CAMSAP2 knockdown to block PFOS-induced disruptive organization of MTs, but also F-actin, across cell cytosol through changes in cellular distribution/localization of MT- and actin-regulatory proteins. In summary, CAMSAP2 is a regulator of MT and actin dynamics in Sertoli cells to support BTB dynamics and spermatogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/en.2018-01097DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6530524PMC
June 2019

F5-peptide enhances the efficacy of the non-hormonal male contraceptive adjudin.

Contraception 2019 06 11;99(6):350-356. Epub 2019 Feb 11.

The Mary M. Wohlford Laboratory for Male Contraceptive Research, Center for Biomedical Research, Population Council, 1230 York Ave, New York, NY 10065. Electronic address:

Objective: The bioavailability of the non-hormonal male contraceptive adjudin is low in rats due to the blood-testis barrier (BTB). This study was designed to examine if F5-peptide, an endogenously produced reversible BTB modifier, could enhance the bioavailability of adjudin to affect spermatogenesis and provide a contraceptive effect in rats while reducing systemic toxicity.

Study Design: We overexpressed F5-peptide in adult male rats (n=10 rats; with 3 or 4 rats for each of the three different experiments noted in the three regimens) by intratesticular injection of a mammalian expression vector pCI-neo (pCI-neo/F5-peptide) vs. empty vector alone (pCI-neo/Ctrl) to be followed by treatment with adjudin by oral gavage at a dose of 10 or 20 mg/kg. The status of spermatogenesis was assessed by histological analysis and dual-labeled immunofluorescence analysis on Day 16. To assess fertility, we allowed treated males (n=3-4 rats) to mate with mature female rats (n=3-4) individually, and assessed the number of pups on Days 23, 36 and 82 to assess fertility and reversibility.

Results: All 4 treated rats overexpressed with F5-peptide and low-dose adjudin were infertile by Day 36, and half of these rats were fertile by Day 82, illustrating reversibility. However, overexpression of F5-peptide alone (or low-dose adjudin alone) had no effects on fertility in n=3 rats. These findings were consistent with the histology data that illustrated the BTB modifier F5-peptide promoted the action of adjudin to induce germ cell exfoliation, mediated by changes in cytoskeletal organization of F-actin and microtubules across the epithelium, thereby reducing the systemic toxicity of adjudin.

Conclusion: In this proof-of-concept study, it was shown that overexpression of the F5-peptide prior to administration of adjudin to rats at a low (and ineffective dose by itself) was found to induce reversible male infertility.

Implications: Overexpression of F5-peptide, an endogenously produced biomolecule in the testis known to induce BTB remodeling, enhanced the contraceptive effect of adjudin in rats, supporting proof of concept studies of BTB disrupters in men.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.contraception.2019.01.007DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6790069PMC
June 2019

Myosin VIIa Supports Spermatid/Organelle Transport and Cell Adhesion During Spermatogenesis in the Rat Testis.

Endocrinology 2019 03 1;160(3):484-503. Epub 2019 Mar 1.

The Mary M. Wohlford Laboratory for Male Contraceptive Research, Center for Biomedical Research, Population Council, New York, New York.

The biology of transport of spermatids and spermatid adhesion across the seminiferous epithelium during the epithelial cycle remains largely unexplored. Nonetheless, studies have implicated the role of motor proteins in these cellular events. In this article, we report findings to unravel the role of myosin VIIa, an F-actin-based barbed (+)-end-directed motor protein, to support cellular transport and adhesion in the testis. Using RNA interference to knock down myosin VIIa in Sertoli cells cultured in vitro as a study model was shown to perturb the Sertoli cell tight junction permeability barrier, mediated through disorganization of actin- or microtubule (MT)-based cytoskeletons owing to disruptive changes on the spatiotemporal expression of F-actin or MT-regulatory proteins. Consistent with these in vitro findings, knockdown of myosin VIIa in the testis in vivo also induced disorganization of the actin- and MT-based cytoskeletons across the seminiferous epithelium, mediated by disruptive changes in the spatiotemporal expression of actin- and MT-based regulatory proteins. More important, the transport of spermatids and organelles across the epithelium, as well as cell adhesion, was grossly disrupted. For instance, step 19 spermatids failed to be transported to the adluminal compartment near the tubule lumen to undergo spermiation; in this manner, step 19 spermatids were persistently detected in stage IX and XII tubules, intermingling with step 9 and 12 spermatids, respectively. Also, phagosomes were detected near the tubule lumen in stage I to III tubules when they should have been degraded near the base of the seminiferous epithelium via the lysosomal pathway. In summary, myosin VIIa motor protein was crucial to support cellular transport and adhesion during spermatogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/en.2018-00855DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6372944PMC
March 2019

Mechanistic Insights into PFOS-Mediated Sertoli Cell Injury.

Trends Mol Med 2018 09 25;24(9):781-793. Epub 2018 Jul 25.

The Mary M. Wohlford Laboratory for Male Contraceptive Research, Center for Biomedical Research, Population Council, 1230 York Ave, New York, NY 10065, USA. Electronic address:

Studies have proven that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are harmful to humans, most notably perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS). PFOS induces rapid disorganization of actin- and microtubule (MT)-based cytoskeletons in primary cultures of rodent and human Sertoli cells, perturbing Sertoli cell gap junction communication, thereby prohibiting Sertoli cells from maintaining cellular homeostasis in the seminiferous epithelium to support spermatogenesis. PFOS perturbs several signaling proteins/pathways, such as FAK and mTORC1/rpS6/Akt1/2. The use of either an activator of Akt1/2 or overexpression of a phosphomimetic (and constitutively active) mutant of FAK or connexin 43 has demonstrated that such treatment blocks PFOS-induced Sertoli cell injury by preventing actin- and MT-based cytoskeletal disorganization. These findings thus illustrate an approach to manage PFOS-induced reproductive dysfunction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molmed.2018.07.001DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6114095PMC
September 2018

Dynein 1 supports spermatid transport and spermiation during spermatogenesis in the rat testis.

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 2018 11 17;315(5):E924-E948. Epub 2018 Jul 17.

The Mary M. Wohlford Laboratory for Male Contraceptive Research, Center for Biomedical Research, Population Council , New York, New York.

In the mammalian testis, spermatogenesis is dependent on the microtubule (MT)-specific motor proteins, such as dynein 1, that serve as the engine to support germ cell and organelle transport across the seminiferous epithelium at different stages of the epithelial cycle. Yet the underlying molecular mechanism(s) that support this series of cellular events remain unknown. Herein, we used RNAi to knockdown cytoplasmic dynein 1 heavy chain (Dync1h1) and an inhibitor ciliobrevin D to inactivate dynein in Sertoli cells in vitro and the testis in vivo, thereby probing the role of dynein 1 in spermatogenesis. Both treatments were shown to extensively induce disruption of MT organization across Sertoli cells in vitro and the testis in vivo. These changes also perturbed the transport of spermatids and other organelles (such as phagosomes) across the epithelium. These changes thus led to disruption of spermatogenesis. Interestingly, the knockdown of dynein 1 or its inactivation by ciliobrevin D also perturbed gross disruption of F-actin across the Sertoli cells in vitro and the seminiferous epithelium in vivo, illustrating there are cross talks between the two cytoskeletons in the testis. In summary, these findings confirm the role of cytoplasmic dynein 1 to support the transport of spermatids and organelles across the seminiferous epithelium during the epithelial cycle of spermatogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajpendo.00114.2018DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6293164PMC
November 2018

Monitoring the Integrity of the Blood-Testis Barrier (BTB): An In Vivo Assay.

Methods Mol Biol 2018 ;1748:245-252

The Mary M. Wohlford Laboratory for Male Contraceptive Research, Center for Biomedical Research, Population Council, New York, NY, USA.

The blood-testis barrier is a unique ultrastructure in the mammalian testis, located near the basement membrane of the seminiferous tubule that segregates the seminiferous epithelium into the basal and the adluminal (apical) compartment. Besides restricting paracellular and transcellular passage of biomolecules (e.g., paracrine factors, hormones), water, electrolytes, and other substances including toxicants and/or drugs to enter the adluminal compartment of the epithelium, the BTB is an important ultrastructure that supports spermatogenesis. As such, a sensitive and reliable assay to monitor its integrity in vivo is helpful for studying testis biology. This assay is based on the ability of an intact BTB to exclude the diffusion of a small molecule such as sulfo-NHS-LC-biotin (CHNNaOS, Mr. 556.59, a water-soluble and membrane-impermeable biotinylation reagent) from the basal to the apical compartment of the seminiferous epithelium. Herein, we summarize the detailed procedures on performing the assay and to obtain semiquantitative data to assess the extent of BTB damage when compared to positive controls, such as treatment of rats with cadmium chloride (CdCl) which is known to compromise the BTB integrity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-7698-0_17DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5963690PMC
February 2019

Regulation of Blood-Testis Barrier (BTB) Dynamics, Role of Actin-, and Microtubule-Based Cytoskeletons.

Methods Mol Biol 2018 ;1748:229-243

The Mary M. Wohlford Laboratory for Male Contraceptive Research, Center for Biomedical Research, Population Council, New York, New York, USA.

The blood-testis barrier (BTB) is an important ultrastructure in the testis that supports meiosis and postmeiotic spermatid development since a delay in the establishment of a functional Sertoli cell barrier during postnatal development in rats or mice by 17-20 day postpartum (dpp) would lead to a delay of the first wave of meiosis. Furthermore, irreversible disruption of the BTB by toxicants also induces infertility in rodents. Herein, we summarize recent findings that BTB dynamics (i.e., disassembly, reassembly, and stabilization) are supported by the concerted efforts of the actin- and microtubule (MT)-based cytoskeletons. We focus on the role of two actin nucleation protein complexes, namely, the Arp2/3 (actin-related protein 2/3) complex and formin 1 (or the formin 1/spire 1 complex) known to induce actin nucleation, respectively, by conferring plasticity to actin cytoskeleton. We also focus on the MT plus (+)-end tracking protein (+TIP) EB1 (end-binding protein 1) which is known to confer MT stabilization. Furthermore, we discuss in particular how the interactions of these proteins modulate BTB dynamics during spermatogenesis. These findings also yield a novel hypothetical concept regarding the molecular mechanism that modulates BTB function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-7698-0_16DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5963684PMC
February 2019

Actin nucleator Spire 1 is a regulator of ectoplasmic specialization in the testis.

Cell Death Dis 2018 02 12;9(2):208. Epub 2018 Feb 12.

The Mary M. Wohlford Laboratory for Male Contraceptive Research, Center for Biomedical Research, 1230 York Avenue, New York, NY, 10065, USA.

Germ cell differentiation during the epithelial cycle of spermatogenesis is accompanied by extensive remodeling at the Sertoli cell-cell and Sertoli cell-spermatid interface to accommodate the transport of preleptotene spermatocytes and developing spermatids across the blood-testis barrier (BTB) and the adluminal compartment of the seminiferous epithelium, respectively. The unique cell junction in the testis is the actin-rich ectoplasmic specialization (ES) designated basal ES at the Sertoli cell-cell interface, and the apical ES at the Sertoli-spermatid interface. Since ES dynamics (i.e., disassembly, reassembly and stabilization) are supported by actin microfilaments, which rapidly converts between their bundled and unbundled/branched configuration to confer plasticity to the ES, it is logical to speculate that actin nucleation proteins play a crucial role to ES dynamics. Herein, we reported findings that Spire 1, an actin nucleator known to polymerize actins into long stretches of linear microfilaments in cells, is an important regulator of ES dynamics. Its knockdown by RNAi in Sertoli cells cultured in vitro was found to impede the Sertoli cell tight junction (TJ)-permeability barrier through changes in the organization of F-actin across Sertoli cell cytosol. Unexpectedly, Spire 1 knockdown also perturbed microtubule (MT) organization in Sertoli cells cultured in vitro. Biochemical studies using cultured Sertoli cells and specific F-actin vs. MT polymerization assays supported the notion that a transient loss of Spire 1 by RNAi disrupted Sertoli cell actin and MT polymerization and bundling activities. These findings in vitro were reproduced in studies in vivo by RNAi using Spire 1-specific siRNA duplexes to transfect testes with Polyplus in vivo-jetPEI as a transfection medium with high transfection efficiency. Spire 1 knockdown in the testis led to gross disruption of F-actin and MT organization across the seminiferous epithelium, thereby impeding the transport of spermatids and phagosomes across the epithelium and perturbing spermatogenesis. In summary, Spire 1 is an ES regulator to support germ cell development during spermatogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41419-017-0201-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5833730PMC
February 2018

Regulation of spermatid polarity by the actin- and microtubule (MT)-based cytoskeletons.

Semin Cell Dev Biol 2018 09 12;81:88-96. Epub 2018 Jul 12.

The Second Affiliated Hospital & Yuying Children's Hospital, Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, Zhejiang, China; The Mary M. Wohlford Laboarory for Male Contraceptive Research, Center for Biomedical Research, Population Council, 1230 York Ave, New York, NY 10065, United States. Electronic address:

It is conceivable that spermatid apico-basal polarity and spermatid planar cell polarity (PCP) are utmost important to support spermatogenesis. The orderly arrangement of developing germ cells in particular spermatids during spermiogenesis are essential to obtain structural and nutrient supports from the fixed number of Sertoli cells across the limited space of seminiferous epithelium in the tubules following Sertoli cell differentiation by ∼17 day postpartum (dpp) in rodents and ∼12 years of age at puberty in humans. Yet few studies are found in the literature to investigate the role of these proteins to support spermatogenesis. Herein, we briefly summarize recent findings in the field, in particular emerging evidence that supports the concept that apico-basal polarity and PCP are conferred by the corresponding polarity proteins through their effects on the actin- and microtubule (MT)-based cytoskeletons. While much research is needed to bridge our gaps of understanding cell polarity, cytoskeletal function, and signaling proteins, a critical evaluation of some latest findings as summarized herein provides some important and also thought-provoking concepts to design better functional experiments to address this important, yet largely expored, research topic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.semcdb.2018.01.013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6078802PMC
September 2018

Src family kinases (SFKs) and cell polarity in the testis.

Semin Cell Dev Biol 2018 09 6;81:46-53. Epub 2017 Dec 6.

The Mary M. Wohlford Laboratory for Male Contraceptive Research, Center for Biomedical Research, Population Council, 1230 York Ave, New York, New York, 10065, United States. Electronic address:

Non-receptor Src family kinases (SFKs), most notably c-Src and c-Yes, are recently shown to be expressed by Sertoli and/or germ cells in adult rat testes. Studies have shown that SFKs are involved in modulating the cell cytoskeletal function, and involved in endocytic vesicle-mediated protein endocytosis, transcytosis and/or recycling as well as intracellular protein degradation events. Furthermore, a knockdown to SFKs, in particular c-Yes, has shown to induce defects in spermatid polarity. These findings, coupled with emerging evidence in the field, thus prompt us to critically evaluate them to put forth a developing concept regarding the role of SFKs and cell polarity, which will become a basis to design experiments for future investigations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.semcdb.2017.11.024DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5988912PMC
September 2018

Rescue of PFOS-induced human Sertoli cell injury by overexpressing a p-FAK-Y407E phosphomimetic mutant.

Sci Rep 2017 Nov 17;7(1):15810. Epub 2017 Nov 17.

The Mary M. Wohlford Laboratory for Male Contraceptive Research, Center for Biomedical Research, Population Council, 1230 York Ave, New York, New York, 10065, USA.

PFOS induces Sertoli cell injury using testicular cells isolated from rodent testes, but it remains unknown if PFOS has similar effects in humans. Herein, we maintained human Sertoli cells in a mitotically active state in vitro, thus enabling transfection experiments that altered gene expression to explore the molecular mechanism(s) underlying toxicant-induced cell injury. Human Sertoli cells obtained from men at ages 15, 23, 36 and 40 were cultured in vitro. These differentiated Sertoli cells remained mitotically active when cultured in the presence of 10% FBS (fetal bovine serum), with a replication time of ~1-3 weeks. At ~80% confluency, they were used for studies including toxicant exposure, immunoblotting, immunofluorescence analysis, tight junction (TJ)-permeability assessment, and overexpression of BTB (blood-testis barrier) regulatory genes such as FAK and its phosphomimetic mutants. PFOS was found to induce Sertoli cell injury through disruptive effects on actin microfilaments and microtubule (MT) organization across the cell cytosol. As a consequence, these cytoskeletal networks failed to support cell adhesion at the BTB. Overexpression of a FAK phosphomimetic and constitutively active mutant p-FAK-Y407E in these cells was capable of rescuing the PFOS-induced injury through corrective cellular organization of cytoskeletal elements.

Summary: PFOS induces human Sertoli cell injury which can be rescued by overexpressing p-FAK-Y407E mutant.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-15671-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5693862PMC
November 2017

Sperm Release at Spermiation Is Regulated by Changes in the Organization of Actin- and Microtubule-Based Cytoskeletons at the Apical Ectoplasmic Specialization-A Study Using the Adjudin Model.

Endocrinology 2017 12;158(12):4300-4316

Mary M. Wohlford Laboratory for Male Contraceptive Research, Center for Biomedical Research.

The mechanism that regulates sperm release at spermiation is unknown. Herein, we used an animal model wherein rats were treated with adjudin, 1-(2,4-dichlorobenzyl)-1H-indazole-3-carbohydrazide, via oral gavage to induce premature release of elongating/elongated spermatids, followed by round spermatids and spermatocytes. Spermatid release mimicking spermiation occurred within 6 to 12 hours following adjudin treatment and, by 96 hours, virtually all tubules were devoid of elongating/elongated spermatids. Using this model, we tracked the organization of F-actin and microtubules (MTs) by immunofluorescence microscopy, and the association of actin or MT regulatory proteins that either promote or demolish cytoskeletal integrity through changes in the organization of actin microfilaments or MTs by coimmunoprecipitation. Adjudin treatment induced an increase in the association of (1) epidermal growth factor receptor pathway substrate 8 (an actin barbed-end capping and bundling protein) or formin 1 (an actin nucleator) with actin and (2) end-binding protein 1 (an MT stabilizing protein) with MT shortly after adjudin exposure (at 6 hours), in an attempt to maintain spermatid adhesion to the Sertoli cell at the apical ectoplasmic specialization (ES). However, this was followed by a considerable decline of their steady-state protein levels, replacing with an increase in association of (1) actin-related protein 3 (a branched actin nucleator that converts actin filaments into a branched/unbundled network) with actin and (2) MT affinity-regulating kinase 4 (an MT destabilizing protein kinase) with MTs by 12 hours after adjudin treatment. These latter changes thus promoted actin and MT disorganization, leading to apical ES disruption and the release of elongating/elongated spermatids, mimicking spermiation. In summary, spermiation is a cytoskeletal-dependent event, involving regulatory proteins that modify cytoskeletal organization.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/en.2017-00660DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5711386PMC
December 2017

Cell polarity and cytoskeletons-Lesson from the testis.

Semin Cell Dev Biol 2018 09 6;81:21-32. Epub 2017 Oct 6.

The Mary M. Wohlford Laboratory for Male Contraceptive Research, Center for Biomedical Research, 1230 York Ave, New York, NY 10065, United States. Electronic address:

Cell polarity in the adult mammalian testis refers to the polarized alignment of developing spermatids during spermiogenesis and the polarized organization of organelles (e.g., phagosomes, endocytic vesicles, Sertoli cell nuclei, Golgi apparatus) in Sertoli cells and germ cells to support spermatogenesis. Without these distinctive features of cell polarity in the seminiferous epithelium, it is not possible to support the daily production of millions of sperm in the limited space provided by the seminiferous tubules in either rodent or human males through the adulthood. In short, cell polarity provides a novel mean to align spermatids and the supporting organelles (e.g., phagosomes, Golgi apparatus, endocytic vesicles) in a highly organized fashion spatially in the seminiferous epithelium during the epithelial cycle of spermatogenesis. This is analogous to different assembling units in a manufacturing plant such that as developing spermatids move along the "assembly line" conferred by Sertoli cells, different structural/functional components can be added to (or removed from) the developing spermatids during spermiogenesis, so that functional spermatozoa are produced at the end of the assembly line. Herein, we briefly review findings regarding the regulation of cell polarity in the testis with specific emphasis on developing spermatids, supported by an intriguing network of regulatory proteins along a local functional axis. Emerging evidence has suggested that cell cytoskeletons provide the tracks which in turn confer the unique assembly lines in the seminiferous epithelium. We also provide some thought-provoking concepts based on which functional experiments can be designed in future studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.semcdb.2017.09.037DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5889362PMC
September 2018

Aspirin wears smart.

Eur Heart J Cardiovasc Pharmacother 2017 10;3(4):185-188

Department of Health Sciences, Institute of Research for Food Safety & Health, Nutramed Scarl, University of Catanzaro "Magna Graecia", Catanzaro, Italy.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ehjcvp/pvx017DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5843133PMC
October 2017

Signaling pathways regulating blood-tissue barriers - Lesson from the testis.

Biochim Biophys Acta Biomembr 2018 Jan 25;1860(1):141-153. Epub 2017 Apr 25.

The Mary M. Woldford Laboratory for Male Contraceptive Research, Center for Biomedical Research, Population Council, 1230 York Ave, New York, NY 10065, United States. Electronic address:

Signaling pathways that regulate blood-tissue barriers are important for studying the biology of various blood-tissue barriers. This information, if deciphered and better understood, will provide better therapeutic management of diseases particularly in organs that are sealed by the corresponding blood-tissue barriers from systemic circulation, such as the brain and the testis. These barriers block the access of antibiotics and/or chemotherapeutical agents across the corresponding barriers. Studies in the last decade using the blood-testis barrier (BTB) in rats have demonstrated the presence of several signaling pathways that are crucial to modulate BTB function. Herein, we critically evaluate these findings and provide hypothetical models regarding the underlying mechanisms by which these signaling molecules/pathways modulate BTB dynamics. This information should be carefully evaluated to examine their applicability in other tissue barriers which shall benefit future functional studies in the field. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Gap Junction Proteins edited by Jean Claude Herve.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbamem.2017.04.020DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5656563PMC
January 2018

Lonidamine-ethyl ester-mediated remodelling of the Sertoli cell cytoskeleton induces phosphorylation of plakoglobin and promotes its interaction with α-catenin at the blood-testis barrier.

Reprod Fertil Dev 2017 Apr;29(5):998-1011

S.B.M. Srl-Science of Biology in Medicine, Via Domenico Tardini 35-00167 Rome, Italy.

Several compounds affect male fertility by disrupting the adhesion of germ cells to Sertoli cells, which results in the release of undeveloped germ cells into the seminiferous tubule lumen that are incapable of fertilising the ovum. Indazole carboxylic acids are one class of compounds exhibiting such effects and they have been investigated as non-hormonal contraceptives for potential human use. The aims of this study were to investigate the effects of lonidamine-ethyl ester, an indazole carboxylic acid, on spermatogenesis and cell junctions, in particular, desmosomes. We found two doses of lonidamine-ethyl ester at 50mg kg to disrupt Sertoli-germ cell adhesion. By light and fluorescent microscopy, pronounced changes were observed in the distribution of actin microfilaments and intermediate filaments, as well as in the localisation of plakoglobin, a protein with structural and signalling roles at the desmosome and adherens junction at the blood-testis barrier. Furthermore, immunoblotting and immunoprecipitation experiments using testis lysates revealed a significant upregulation (P<0.01) of plakoglobin and Tyr-phosphorylated plakoglobin. Co-immunoprecipitation experiments showed an increase in the interaction between plakoglobin and fyn proto-oncogene, an Src family non-receptor tyrosine kinase, after treatment, as well as an increase in the interaction between plakoglobin and α-catenin. Taken collectively, these data indicate that a disruption of Sertoli cell and spermatocyte-spermatid adhesion in the seminiferous epithelium by lonidamine-ethyl ester results in the phosphorylation of plakoglobin, thereby promoting its interaction with α-catenin at the blood-testis barrier.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/RD15378DOI Listing
April 2017

Transport of germ cells across the seminiferous epithelium during spermatogenesis-the involvement of both actin- and microtubule-based cytoskeletons.

Tissue Barriers 2016 28;4(4):e1265042. Epub 2016 Nov 28.

The Mary M. Wohlford Laboratory for Male Contraceptive Research, Center for Biomedical Research, Population Council , New York, NY, USA.

The transport of germ cells from the base of the seminiferous epithelium toward the luminal edge of the tubule lumen in the adluminal compartment during the epithelial cycle is an essential cellular event to support spermatogenesis. Thus, fully developed elongated spermatids (i.e., spermatozoa) can be released at spermiation in late stage VIII in rodents late stage II in humans. Earlier studies to examine the molecular mechanism(s) that support germ cell transport, most notably the transport of preleptotene spermatocytes across the blood-testis barrier (BTB), and the transport of elongating spermatids across the adluminal compartment during spermiogenesis, is focused on the adhesion protein complexes at the cell-cell interface. It is generally accepted that cell junctions at the Sertoli cell-cell interface at the BTB, including the actin-based tight junction (TJ), basal ectoplasmic specialization (basal ES, a testis-specific adherens junction) and gap junction (GJ), as well as the intermediate filament-based desmosome undergo constant remodeling to accommodate the transport of preleptotene spermatocytes across the barrier. On the other hand, similar junction dynamics (i.e., disassembly, reassembly and stabilization/maintenance) take place at the Sertoli-spermatid interface. Emerging evidence has shown that junction dynamics at the Sertoli cell-cell Sertoli-germ cell interface are supported by the 2 intriguingly coordinated cytoskeletons, namely the F-actin- and microtubule (MT)-based cytoskeletons. Herein, we provide a brief summary and critically evaluate the recent findings. We also provide an updated hypothetical concept regarding germ cell transport in the testis utilizing the MT-conferred tracks and the MT-specific motor proteins. Furthermore, this cellular event is also supported by the F-actin-based cytoskeleton.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21688370.2016.1265042DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5214086PMC
February 2018

Effective Delivery of Male Contraceptives Behind the Blood-Testis Barrier (BTB) - Lesson from Adjudin.

Curr Med Chem 2016 ;23(7):701-13

Mary M. Wohlford Laboratory for Male Contraceptive Research, Center for Biomedical Research, Population Council, 1230 York Ave, New York 10065, USA..

The blood-testis barrier (BTB) is one of the tightest blood-tissue barriers in the mammalian body. It divides the seminiferous epithelium of the seminiferous tubule, the functional unit of the testis, where spermatogenesis takes place, into the basal and the adluminal (apical) compartments. Functionally, the BTB provides a unique microenvironment for meiosis I/II and post-meiotic spermatid development which take place exclusively in the apical compartment, away from the host immune system, and it contributes to the immune privilege status of testis. However, the BTB also poses major obstacles in developing male contraceptives (e.g., adjudin) that exert their effects on germ cells in the apical compartment, such as by disrupting spermatid adhesion to the Sertoli cell, causing germ cell exfoliation from the testis. Besides the tight junction (TJ) between adjacent Sertoli cells at the BTB that restricts the entry of contraceptives from the microvessels in the interstitium to the adluminal compartment, drug transporters, such as P-glycoprotein and multidrug resistance-associated protein 1 (MRP1), are also present that actively pump drugs out of the testis, limiting drug bioavailability. Recent advances in drug formulations, such as drug particle micronization (<50 μm) and co-grinding of drug particles with ß-cyclodextrin have improved bioavailability of contraceptives via considerable increase in solubility. Herein, we discuss development in drug formulations using adjudin as an example. We also put emphasis on the possible use of nanotechnology to deliver adjudin to the apical compartment with multidrug magnetic mesoporous silica nanoparticles. These advances in technology will significantly enhance our ability to develop effective non-hormonal male contraceptives for men.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4845722PMC
http://dx.doi.org/10.2174/0929867323666160112122724DOI Listing
November 2016

Connexin 43 reboots meiosis and reseals blood-testis barrier following toxicant-mediated aspermatogenesis and barrier disruption.

FASEB J 2016 Apr 17;30(4):1436-52. Epub 2015 Dec 17.

*The Mary M. Wohlford Laboratory for Male Contraceptive Research, Center for Biomedical Research, Population Council, New York, New York, USA; Department of Biology, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, China; School of Biological Sciences, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China; Department of Cell Biology, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China; and S.B.M. Srl Pharmaceuticals, Rome, Italy

Earlier studies have shown that rats treated with an acute dose of 1-(2,4-dichlorobenzyl)-1H-indazole-3-carbohydrazide (adjudin, a male contraceptive under development) causes permanent infertility due to irreversible blood-testis barrier (BTB) disruption even though the population of undifferentiated spermatogonia remains similar to normal rat testes, because spermatogonia fail to differentiate into spermatocytes to enter meiosis. Since other studies have illustrated the significance of connexin 43 (Cx43)-based gap junction in maintaining the homeostasis of BTB in the rat testis and the phenotypes of Sertoli cell-conditional Cx43 knockout mice share many of the similarities of the adjudin-treated rats, we sought to examine if overexpression of Cx43 in these adjudin-treated rats would reseal the disrupted BTB and reinitiate spermatogenesis. A full-length Cx43 cloned into mammalian expression vector pCI-neo was used to transfect testes of adjudin-treated ratsversusempty vector. It was found that overexpression of Cx43 indeed resealed the Sertoli cell tight junction-permeability barrier based on a functionalin vivoassay in tubules displaying signs of meiosis as noted by the presence of round spermatids. Thus, these findings suggest that overexpression of Cx43 reinitiated spermatogenesis at least through the steps of meiosis to generate round spermatids in testes of rats treated with an acute dose of adjudin that led to aspermatogenesis. It was also noted that the round spermatids underwent eventual degeneration with the formation of multinucleated cells following Cx43 overexpression due to the failure of spermiogenesis because no elongating/elongated spermatids were detected in any of the tubules examined. The mechanism by which overexpression of Cx43 reboots meiosis and rescues BTB function was also examined. In summary, overexpression of Cx43 in the testis with aspermatogenesis reboots meiosis and reseals toxicant-induced BTB disruption, even though it fails to support round spermatids to enter spermiogenesis.-Li, N., Mruk, D. D., Mok, K.-W., Li, M. W. M., Wong, C. K. C., Lee, W. M., Han, D., Silvestrini, B., Cheng, C. Y. Connexin 43 reboots meiosis and reseals blood-testis barrier following toxicant-mediated aspermatogenesis and barrier disruption.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1096/fj.15-276527DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4799501PMC
April 2016

Adjudin--A Male Contraceptive with Other Biological Activities.

Recent Pat Endocr Metab Immune Drug Discov 2015 ;9(2):63-73

The Mary M. Wohlford Laboratory for Male Contraceptive Research, Center for Biomedical Research, Population Council, 1230 York Ave, New York, New York 10065, United States of America.

Background: Adjudin has been explored as a male contraceptive for the last 15 years since its initial synthesis in the late 1990s. More than 50 papers have been published and listed in PubMed in which its mechanism that induces exfoliation of germ cells from the seminiferous epithelium, such as its effects on actin microfilaments at the apical ES (ectoplasmic specialization, a testis-specific actin-rich anchoring junction) has been delineated.

Objective: Recent studies have demonstrated that, besides its activity to induce germ cell exfoliation from the seminiferous epithelium to cause reversible infertility in male rodents, adjudin possesses other biological activities, which include anti-cancer, anti-inflammation in the brain, and anti-ototoxicity induced by gentamicin in rodents. Results of these findings likely spark the interest of investigators to explore other medical use of this and other indazole-based compounds, possibly mediated by the signaling pathway(s) in the mitochondria of mammalian cells following treatment with adjudin. In this review, we carefully evaluate these recent findings.

Methods: Papers published and listed at www.pubmed.org and patents pertinent to adjudin and its related compounds were searched. Findings were reviewed and critically evaluated, and summarized herein.

Results: Adjudin is a novel compound that possesses anti-spermatogenetic activity. Furthermore, it possesses anti-cancer, anti-inflammation, anti-neurodegeneration, and anti-ototoxicity activities based on studies using different in vitro and in vivo models.

Conclusion: Studies on adjudin should be expanded to better understand its biological activities so that it can become a useful drug for treatment of other ailments besides serving as a male contraceptive.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5802880PMC
http://dx.doi.org/10.2174/1872214809666151029113043DOI Listing
October 2016

Formins: Actin nucleators that regulate cytoskeletal dynamics during spermatogenesis.

Spermatogenesis 2015 May-Aug;5(2):e1066476. Epub 2015 Jun 29.

The Mary M. Wohlford Laboratory for Male Contraceptive Research; Center for Biomedical Research; Population Council ; New York, NY USA.

Formins are a growing class of actin nucleation proteins that promote the polymerization of actin microfilaments, forming long stretches of actin microfilaments to confer actin filament bundling in mammalian cells. As such, microfilament bundles can be formed in specific cellular domains, in particular in motile mammalian cells, such as filopodia. Since ectoplasmic specialization (ES), a testis-specific adherens junction (AJ), at the Sertoli cell-cell and Sertoli-spermatid interface is constituted by arrays of actin microfilament bundles, it is likely that formins are playing a significant physiological role on the homeostasis of ES during the epithelial cycle of spermatogenesis. In this Commentary, we provide a timely discussion on formin 1 which was recently shown to be a crucial regulator of actin microfilaments at the ES in the rat testis (Li N et al. , 2015, ; DOI: 10.1210/en.2015-1161, PMID:25901598). We also highlight research that is needed to unravel the functional significance of formins in spermatogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21565562.2015.1066476DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4581073PMC
June 2015

Interaction of oligomeric breast cancer resistant protein (BCRP) with adjudin: a male contraceptive with anti-cancer activity.

Curr Mol Pharmacol 2014 ;7(2):147-53

The Mary M. Wohlford Laboratory for Male Contraceptive Research, Center for Biomedical Research, Population Council, 1230 York Ave, New York 10065, USA.

Breast cancer resistant protein (BCRP, ABCG2) is an ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter, which together with two other ABC efflux drug pumps, namely P-glycoprotein (P-gp, ABCB1) and multidrug resistance-related protein 1 (MRP1, ABCC1) is the most important multidrug resistance protein foun d in eukaryotic cells including cells in the testis. However, unlike P-gp and MRP1, which are components of the Sertoli cell blood-testis barrier (BTB), BCRP is not expressed at the BTB in rodents and human testes. Instead, BCRP is expressed by peritubular myoid cells and endothelial cells of the lymphatic vessel in the tunica propria, residing outside the BTB. As such, the testis is equipped with two levels of defense against xenobiotics or drugs, preventing these harmful substances from entering the adluminal compartment to perturb meiosis and post-meiotic spermatid development: one at the level of the BTB conferred by P-gp and MRP1 and one at the tunica propria conferred by BCRP. The presence of drug transporters at the tunica propria as well as at the Sertoli cell BTB thus poses significant obstacles in developing non-hormonal contraceptives if these drugs (e.g., adjudin) exert their effects in germ cells behind the BTB, such as in the adluminal (apical) compartment of the seminiferous epithelium. Herein, we summarize recent findings pertinent to adjudin, a non-hormonal male contraceptive, and molecular interactions of adjudin with BCRP so that this information can be helpful to devise delivery strategies to evade BCRP in the tunica propria to improve its bioavailability in the testis.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4821463PMC
http://dx.doi.org/10.2174/1874467208666150126154049DOI Listing
October 2015

Environmental toxicants perturb human Sertoli cell adhesive function via changes in F-actin organization mediated by actin regulatory proteins.

Hum Reprod 2014 Jun 13;29(6):1279-91. Epub 2014 Feb 13.

The Mary M. Wohlford Laboratory for Male Contraceptive Research, Center for Biomedical Research, Population Council, 1230 York Ave, New York, NY 10065, USA.

Study Question: Can human Sertoli cells cultured in vitro and that have formed an epithelium be used as a model to monitor toxicant-induced junction disruption and to better understand the mechanism(s) by which toxicants disrupt cell adhesion at the Sertoli cell blood-testis barrier (BTB)?

Summary Answer: Our findings illustrate that human Sertoli cells cultured in vitro serve as a reliable system to monitor the impact of environmental toxicants on the BTB function.

What Is Known Already: Suspicions of a declining trend in semen quality and a concomitant increase in exposures to environmental toxicants over the past decades reveal the need of an in vitro system that efficiently and reliably monitors the impact of toxicants on male reproductive function. Furthermore, studies in rodents have confirmed that environmental toxicants impede Sertoli cell BTB function in vitro and in vivo.

Study Design, Size And Duration: We examined the effects of two environmental toxicants: cadmium chloride (0.5-20 µM) and bisphenol A (0.4-200 µM) on human Sertoli cell function. Cultured Sertoli cells from three men were used in this study, which spanned an 18-month period.

Participants/materials, Setting, Methods: Human Sertoli cells from three subjects were cultured in F12/DMEM containing 5% fetal bovine serum. Changes in protein expression were monitored by immunoblotting using specific antibodies. Immunofluorescence analyses were used to assess changes in the distribution of adhesion proteins, F-actin and actin regulatory proteins following exposure to two toxicants: cadmium chloride and bisphenol A (BPA).

Main Results And The Role Of Chance: Human Sertoli cells were sensitive to cadmium and BPA toxicity. Changes in the localization of cell adhesion proteins were mediated by an alteration of the actin-based cytoskeleton. This alteration of F-actin network in Sertoli cells as manifested by truncation and depolymerization of actin microfilaments at the Sertoli cell BTB was caused by mislocalization of actin filament barbed end capping and bundling protein Eps8, and branched actin polymerization protein Arp3. Besides impeding actin dynamics, endocytic vesicle-mediated trafficking and the proper localization of actin regulatory proteins c-Src and annexin II in Sertoli cells were also affected. Results of statistical analysis demonstrate that these findings were not obtained by chance.

Limitations, Reasons For Caution: (i) This study was done in vitro and might not extrapolate to the in vivo state, (ii) conclusions are based on the use of Sertoli cell samples from three men and (iii) it is uncertain if the concentrations of toxicants used in the experiments are reached in vivo.

Wider Implications Of The Findings: Human Sertoli cells cultured in vitro provide a robust model to monitor environmental toxicant-mediated disruption of Sertoli cell BTB function and to study the mechanism(s) of toxicant-induced testicular dysfunction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/humrep/deu011DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4017941PMC
June 2014