The Sertoli cell junctional specializations and their relationship to the germinal epithelium as observed after efferent ductule ligation.Anat Rec. 1975 Oct; 183(2):267-91.AR
Seminiferous tubules from testes of normal and efferent ductule ligated mice were examined with the electron microscope. The tubules in the ligated animals were markedly distended and at most stages of the seminiferous cycle the epithelium exhibited a series of circumferentially-oriented ridges. Cross-sectional profiles of these ridges were studied with particular emphasis on the Sertoli cell junctional specializations and their relationship to the germinal cells. In the ligated specimen the basal cytoplasm of the Sertoli cells is highly attenuated, often appearing as a thin process resting on the basement lamina. Where the cytoplasm of one Sertoli cell ends, it meets in apposition with the cytoplasm of an adjoining Sertoli cell, and at these sites, junctional specializations are present. The ridges are comprised of a stalk of apical Sertoli cell cytoplasm, often appearing like an inverted cone, with young spermatids aligned along the lateral surfaces and the more mature spermatid population embedded within the apical cytoplasm. Junctional specializations were observed along these lateral Sertoli cell surfaces. In some instances, they formed a free surface, but usually early spermatids were in contact with the junctional specializations. With respect to the more mature spermatids, the acrosomal component was typically found in relation to a junctional specialization. Germ cells at the spermatocyte stage were also noted in relation to the Sertoli cell junctional specializations. The findings suggest that spermatocytes cross the Sertoli cell barrier and gain access to the adluminal compartment of the seminiferous tubule through the disengagement of the inter-Sertoli cell junctional complex. It is proposed that when the inter-Sertoli cell junctional specializations separate, the spermatocytes come in apposition with the newly freed junctional surfaces and remain in relation with them through the ensuing divisions. It appears that at some point, firm adhesion between germ cells and the junctional specializations occurs; the spermatid progeny may thus maintain contact with the original inter-Sertoli cell junctional specializations until their release into the tubule lumen.