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Biol Reprod. 1995 Jan;52(1):79-87.

Integrin receptor alpha 6 beta 1 is localized at specific sites of cell-to-cell contact in rat seminiferous epithelium.

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  • 1Institute of Histology and General Embryology, La Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.


With the aim of investigating the presence and role of integrin receptors in cell-to-cell interactions during spermatogenesis, we have immunolocalized alpha 6A integrin chain in the rat seminiferous epithelium. In both prepubertal and adult seminiferous epithelium, the antigen was found to be restricted to definite sites of intercellular contact, following a stage-specific distribution almost invariably identical to that known for beta 1 chain. In the adult seminiferous epithelium, positivity for both antigens was found exclusively around the profiles of elongating and maturing spermatids and, in most but not all stages, at a characteristic suprabasal position. In the prepubertal rat, the antigen is localized along a very regular suprabasal line of intercellular contacts. In immunoprecipitation experiments on both seminiferous epithelium explants and Sertoli cell cultures from 3-wk-old rats, anti-alpha 6A antibody coprecipitates a polypeptide of 118 kDa, presumably corresponding to beta 1 chain. These data strongly suggest that the integrin heterodimer alpha 6A beta 1 is expressed at sites of intercellular contact in the rat seminiferous epithelium. The stage-specific and restricted pattern observed by immunofluorescence suggests that this integrin is involved in regulatory interactions between Sertoli cells and germ cells during spermatogenesis.

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