Claudin-11 and occludin are protein components in tight junctions (TJs) between Sertoli cells which are important for the maintenance of the blood-testis barrier. Barrier formation occurs during puberty, with evidence suggesting hormonal regulation of both claudin-11 and occludin. This study aimed to investigate the regulation of claudin-11 and occludin mRNA expression by testosterone (T) and FSH and their immunolocalisation at rat Sertoli cell TJs in vitro, and to correlate any steroid regulation with the functional capacity of TJs. Sertoli cells formed functional TJs within 3 days as assessed by transepithelial electrical resistance (TER). Both T and dihydrotestosterone significantly (P <0.01) increased TER twofold and claudin-11 mRNA two- to threefold within 3 days. FSH partially stimulated TER and claudin-11 mRNA, but estradiol had no effect. T also promoted claudin-11 localisation into extensive intercellular contacts. In contrast to claudin-11, Tand FSH did not change occludin mRNA expression, however, T promoted localisation of occludin at cell contacts in a similar manner to claudin-11. Addition of flutamide to T-stimulated cells caused a twofold decrease in both TER and claudin-11 mRNA expression, and resulted in the loss of both proteins from cell contacts. This effect was reversible following flutamide removal. It is concluded that androgens i) co-regulate claudin-11 mRNA expression and TER, implicating claudin-11 in TJ formation and ii) promote the localisation of claudin-11 and occludin at Sertoli cell contacts. Hence, the ability of androgens to maintain spermatogenesis in vivo is partly via their effects on TJ proteins and regulation of the blood-testis barrier.
|Pages (from-to)||1169 - 1179|
|Number of pages||11|
|Publication status||Published - 2007|