Germ Cell Migration Across Sertoli Cell Tight Junctions

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Science  20 Sep 2012:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1219969

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The blood-testis barrier includes strands of tight junctions between somatic Sertoli cells that restrict solutes from crossing the paracellular space, creating a microenvironment within seminiferous tubules and providing immune privilege to meiotic and postmeiotic cells. Large cysts of germ cells transit the Sertoli cell tight junctions (SCTJs) without compromising their integrity. We used confocal microscopy to visualize SCTJ components during germ cell cyst migration across the SCTJs. Cysts become enclosed within a network of transient compartments fully bounded by old and new tight junctions. Dissolution of the old tight junctions releases the germ cells into the adluminal compartment, thus completing transit across the blood-testis barrier. Claudin 3, a tight junction protein, is transiently incorporated into new tight junctions and then replaced by claudin 11.

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