Triptolide (TP), derived from the medicinal plant Triterygium wilfordii Hook. f. (TWHF), is a diterpene triepoxide with variety biological and pharmacological activities. However, TP has been restricted in clinical application due to its narrow therapeutic window especially in reproductive system. During spermatogenesis, Sertoli cell cytoskeleton plays an essential role in facilitating germ cell movement and cell-cell actin-based adherens junctions (AJ). At Sertoli cell-spermatid interface, the anchoring device is a kind of AJ, known as ectoplasmic specializations (ES). In this study, we demonstrate that β-actin, an important component of cytoskeleton, has been significantly down-regulated after TP treatment. TP can inhibit the expression of Rho GTPase such as, RhoA, RhoB, Cdc42 and Rac1. Downstream of Rho GTPase, Rho-associated protein kinase (ROCKs) gene expressions were also suppressed by TP. F-actin immunofluorescence proved that TP disrupts Sertoli cells cytoskeleton network. As a result of β-actin down-regulation, TP treatment increased expression of testin, which indicating ES has been disassembled. In summary, this report illustrates that TP induces cytoskeleton dysfunction and disrupts cell-cell adherens junctions via inhibition of Rho GTPases.
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