Signaling by TGF-betas in tubule cultures of adult rat testis

Kai Hui Chan, Sebastian P. Galuska, Pradeep Kumar Kudipudi, Mohammad Assad Riaz, Kate L. Loveland, Lutz Konrad

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Although signal transduction of transforming growth factor-betas (TGF-βs) is well characterized in individual cell types, data about TGF-β signaling in a cellular context is still scarce. In this study, we used ex vivo tubule cultures from adult rat testis to investigate TGF-β signaling. We show for the first time in testicular tubules, that TGF-βs also signal via the BMP type I receptors, with ALK2 used by TGF-β1 and ALK3 and ALK6 by TGF-β2. This signal transduction is mediated via Smad3 as well as via Smad1. In contrast, BMPs (BMP2 and BMP7) do not signal via the high-affinity type I and type II TGFβ receptors, TBR1 or TBR2. Furthermore, treatment of tubule cultures with either TGF-β1 or TGF-β2 had profound significant stimulatory effects on secretion of plasminogen activator-1 (PAI-1) through utilization of TGF-β and BMP receptors. Specific inhibitors for either TBR1 or BMP receptors yielded nearly complete inhibition of TGF-β signaling. The TBR1-TBR2 signalosome was detected with Duolink upon stimulation with either TGF-β1 or TGF-β2, predominantly in spermatogenic cells of the adult rat testis, particularly in elongated spermatids. In summary, this examination of intact rat testicular tubules demonstrated for the first time that TGF-βs signal mainly through TBR1 and TBR2 but also use BMP receptors, including for secretion of PAI-1. Whereas ALK2 participates in the TGF-β1-induced TBR1-TBR2 signalosome, ALK3 and ALK6 are involved in signaling of TGF-β2. Detection of the TBR1-TBR2 signalosome in late spermiogenic cells indicates a post-meiotic activity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberAJTR0034593
Pages (from-to)1173-1182
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Translational Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • BMPs
  • PAI-1
  • SMAD
  • TGF-beta signalosome
  • TGF-betas

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