SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Abstract

Ectoplasmic specializations of Sertoli cells are actin containing structures found at sites of attachment to spermatids and to neighboring Sertoli cells. We suspect that these cytoskeletal structures are a form of actin-associated adhesion junction. If this is true, then molecular components, such as vinculin, that characterize actin-associated adhesion junctions in general should be present in ectoplasmic specializations.

In this paper we have used two approaches to verify the prediction that vinculin is a component of ectoplasmic specializations. First, we have used fluorescence microscopy to probe immunologically for vinculin in ectoplasmic specializations associated with spermatids of the ground squirrel. Second, we have used immunogold techniques to probe for vinculin in ectoplasmic specializations of rat testis.

Our results indicate that the immunological probe for vinculin was reactive with ectoplasmic specializations. In single label fluorescence experiments, linear patterns obtained with the vinculin probe were similar to those obtained with probes for filamentous actin. In double label experiments, the vinculin probe was codistributed with the actin probes. In immunogold studies, specific labelling with the probe for vinculin occurred in ectoplasmic specializations both at sites of attachment to spermatids and adjacent to basal Sertoli cell junctions. Moreover, gold particles were concentrated adjacent to filament bundles within each ectoplasmic specialization.

Our results support the conclusion that vinculin is present in ectoplasmic specializations. Further, they indicate that vinculin is co-distributed with actin bundles within each ectoplasmic specialization.