Differential expression of multiple cathepsin mRNAs in the rat testis during maturation and following lonidamine induced tissue restructuring

Premendu P. Mathur, Josephine Grima, Meng Yun Mo, Li Ji Zhu, G. R. Aravindan, Karen Calcagno, Moira O'Bryan, Sanny Chung, Dolores Mruk, Will M. Lee, Bruno Silvestrini, C. Yan Cheng

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25 Citations (Scopus)


In the seminiferous epithelium, germ cell development behind the blood-testis barrier involves continual degradation and renewal of inter-testicular cell junctions. This allows: (i) the translocation of developing germ cells from the basal lamina to the adluminal compartment during spermatogenesis, and (ii) the eventual release of mature spermatids into the tubular lumen during spermiation. Throughout spermatogenesis, cellular debris must also be removed from the epithelium. Thus, it is conceivable that proteases, protease inhibitors, and cell junctional components are involved in these events. The present study sought to examine whether testicular cells can express multiple cathepsin mRNAs given that these proteases are involved in the degradation and processing of proteins as well as in tissue regeneration. By using total RNA isolated from primary cultures of Sertoli, Leydig, and germ cells for reverse-transcription and polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), the mRNAs of cathepsin B, C, D, H, L, and S were shown to be expressed by Sertoli and Leydig cells, whereas germ cells isolated from adult rats expressed all of the above cathepsin mRNAs except cathepsin D. Throughout postnatal development and maturation, the testicular steady-state mRNA levels of cathepsin B, C, D, L, and S remain relatively unchanged with the exception of cathepsin H whose mRNA level increased during maturation and peaked at 45-60 days of age. Using lonidamine, an anti-spermatogenic drug which is known to induce premature release of germ cells without affecting Leydig cell function by disrupting the inter-Sertoli-germ cell junctions, we have examined the differential expression of these cathepsin mRNAs in the testis at the time of extensive tissue restructuring. It was noted that the expression of cathepsin L and S in the testis increased significantly concomitant with the disappearance of elongate spermatids whereas the expression of cathepsin B, C, D, and H increased significantly when most of the round spermatids and spermatocytes were depleted. These results illustrate the intricate inter-relationship between these proteases in the testis during maturation and tissue restructuring.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-233
Number of pages17
JournalBiochemistry and Molecular Biology International
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Lonidamine
  • Maturation
  • Proteases
  • Testis
  • Tissue restructuring

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