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Morphogenetic restructuring and formation of basement membranes by Sertoli cells and testis peritubular cells in co-culture: Inhibition of the morphogenetic cascade by cyclic AMP derivatives and by blocking direct cell contact

Developmental Biology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0012-1606(87)90112-6


Abstract Addition of dibutyryl cyclic AMP (dbcAMP), methylisobutylxanthine (MIX), or cytochalasin D to co-cultures of Sertoli cells and testicular peritubular myoid cells blocks a series of morphogenetic changes which otherwise occur during culture. When Sertoli cells are plated directly onto preexisting layers of peritubular cells maintained under basal conditions, structures form which display many of the characteristics of germ cell-depleted seminiferous tubules. The presence of dbcAMP, MIX, or cytochalasin D, added at varying times after plating Sertoli cells, results in the inhibition of each successive stage of in vitro remodeling: the inhibition of migration of Sertoli cells, the inhibition of initial ridge formation, the blockage of subsequent formation of mounds and nodules of compacted Sertoli cell aggregates, the prevention of the formation of basal lamina and associated layers of extracellular matrix between Sertoli cell aggregates and surrounding peritubular cells, and the inhibition of tubule formation. The presence of dbcAMP also inhibits the migration of peritubular cells, contractions by these cells, and compaction of Sertoli cell aggregates. When intimate cell apposition is prevented by plating the two cell types on either side of a membrane filter, the morphogenetic cascade is blocked, and no formation of a germ cell-depleted seminiferous tubule-like structure occurs. Other effects of dbcAMP on cell shape, cell movement, and cell association patterns during co-culture are described. Possible mechanisms by which dbcAMP, MIX, or cytochalasin D blocks restructuring are discussed. Since each elicits perturbations of the cytoskeleton, we offer the interpretation that cytoskeletal changes may be correlated with the prevention of closely apposing cell compact and the inhibition of basement membrane formation. Interactions observed between Sertoli cells and peritubular cells during co-culture are postulated to be analogous to those occurring in other types of mesenchymal cell-epithelial cell interactions during organogenesis and during tubulogenesis in the fetal testis. Speculatively, the blockage by dbcAMP of the morphogenetic cascade in the co-cultured system may be related to the inhibition by dbcAMP of testis cord formation in organ cultures of fetal gonads reported by others.

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