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Cellular evidence of autophagy in Sertoli cells during spermatogenesis in goats.

Theriogenology (2020-07-19)
Wenjia Qu, Imran Tarique, Bihua Deng, Yue Zhang, Abdul Haseeb, Quisheng Chen, Ping Yang

Sertoli cells (SCs) play their nursing role as structural and functional supporting cells during spermatogenesis to ensure the production of highly specialized mature spermatozoa. Besides that, the role of SCs in autophagy during active (adult) and inactive (young) spermatogenesis in the caprine testis is still largely unknown. In this study, we investigated autophagy in goat SCs by light microscopy, immunohistochemistry (IHC), double immunofluorescence (double-IF), and transmission electron microscopy. Light microscopy showed active seminiferous tubules with SCs and layers of developing germ cells in the adult goat testis. In young goats, layer of germ cells and SCs was viewed on the basal membrane in the seminiferous tubule. IHC of autophagy-related 7 (ATG7) showed moderate expressions in the cytoplasmic extensions of SCs during inactive spermatogenesis, and strong expression was observed during active spermatogenesis in the testis of goat. Co-immunolabeling of p62 or light chain 3 (LC3) with vimentin showed increasing expression from the basal to the luminal compartment of the seminiferous tubule and stronger expression during active than inactive spermatogenesis in the testis of goat. Ultrastructure assessment of the cytoplasm in SCs showed phagophores, generated from the endoplasmic reticulum during active spermatocytogenesis. Numerous autophagosomes and autolysosomes were noted in the SCs cytoplasm, which surrounds the spermatogenic cells in the basal compartment of the seminiferous tubules. At a later stage, SCs showed autophagosomes and autolysosomes, together with multivesicular bodies (MVB), during spermiogenesis at different phases of the acrosome formation. Numerous embedded elongated spermatozoa were found in the cytoplasm of SCs, surrounded by autophagic components and MVB. Under TEM, the mean diameter of autophagosomes was 952.35 nm and that of autolysosomes was 504.38 nm. Collectively, these results suggest that autophagy is active in SCs during caprine spermatogenesis and that the level of autophagy becomes more evident as spermatogenesis advances from the basal to the luminal compartment of SC.

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Phosphate Buffered Saline, 10× PBS for Western blots and IP