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Abstract

The postnatal development of the Sertoli cell barrier, tubular lumen, fluid flow, and cytoskeletal elements in Sertoli and myoid cells was investigated in the Sprague-Dawley rat. With the aid of hypertonic fixatives, a barrier to the rapid entry of fluid was noted in the majority of tubules on the 15th and 16th postnatal (p.n.) days and was completely formed in all tubules prior to p.n. day 18. The actin forming the ecto-plasmic specialization (ES), a cytoskeletal complex related to the occluding junctions composing the barrier, began its development during the period of initial barrier formation (16 p.n. day) and progressively attained its adult prominence. The ES developed its characteristic adult pattern and adult fluorescent intensity at about p.n. day 22. Some seminiferous tubules showed very small lu-mina as early as p.n. day 10. All tubules were not open until p.n. day 30. The size (diameter) of the lumen increased slowly from p.n. day 10 until p.n. day 30 when it started to increase rapidly until about p.n. day 50. Fluid flow in seminiferous tubules was detected as early as p.n. day 20 and increased in amount thereafter. Myoid cell actin filament bundles, running in parallel, were present at p.n. day 10. Actin formed a meshwork pattern characteristic of the adult on, or slightly prior to, p.n. day 22. These data indicate that there is a temporal relationship between the development of the actin cytoskeleton within the Sertoli cell and initial formation of the Sertoli cell barrier. Similarly, there is a temporal relationship between the development of the actin cytoskeleton of myoid cells and tubular fluid flow. The rapid increase in tubular lumen diameter, however, does not correlate with the initial development of Sertoli and myoid cytoskeletal elements.