a1 Dipartimento di Medicina Sperimentale–Seconda Università di Napoli, Napoli, Italy.
a2 Dipartimento di Biologia Strutturale e Funzionale–Università di Napoli ‘Federico II’, Napoli, Italy.
Testicular cell-to-cell interactions play a key role in the regulation of spermatogenesis. In the testis, cell contacts are mediated through several mechanisms, including paracrine and direct contacts depending on gap junctional pathways. Gap junctions require connexin (Cx) channels and connexin-43 (Cx43) represent the most abundant Cx found in mammalian testis. Little is known about Cx expression in non-mammalian testis. Here we report the partial cloning of a Cx43 transcript of 381 bp from Rana esculenta testis. We also demonstrate that, in the frog testis, Cx43 transcript and protein show a parallel temporal and spatial pattern of expression throughout the reproductive annual cycle, with higher levels from September to January (when spermatogenesis is at a maximum level). In situ hybridization, carried out on testis collected in October, indicated that Leydig cells (LC) and Sertoli cells express Cx43 transcript, while the hybridization signal was less intense in germ cells. To obtain more information on Cx43 expression in the frog testis, we have used ethane-dimethane sulphonate (EDS), a toxin that specifically destroys LC. RT-PCR analysis shows a progressive decrease in Cx43 expression in EDS-treated testis from day 1 to day 4 after the injection, associated with LC destruction. Moreover, Cx43 expression returns to normal on day 28, when a new population of LC reappear in the interstitium, indicating that Cx43 is mainly expressed by LC. Taken together our data provide evidence that Cx43 is present in the frog testis with an important role in spermatogenesis.
(Received November 22 2005)
(Accepted January 13 2006)
c1 All correspondence to: S. Minucci. Dipartimento di Medicina Sperimentale, Seconda Università degli Studi di Napoli, Via Costantinopoli 16, 80138 Naples, Italy. Tel: +39 81 5665829. Fax: +39 81 5667536. e-mail: email@example.com