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Endocrinology. 1996 Nov;137(11):5028-35.

Localization of cellular retinoic acid-binding protein (CRABP) II and CRABP in developing rat testis.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Vanderbilt School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee 37232, USA.


Retinoic acid (RA) has been implicated as a signaling molecule for the morphogenesis of some tissues and organs. The morphogenesis of the rat testis occurs relatively late in development, culminating in puberty. Two members of the superfamily of small intracellular carrier proteins for lipophilic compounds are cellular Ra-binding protein (CRABP) and cellular RA-binding protein II (CRABP-II). Both CRABP and CRABP-II are present at various sites in the developing mouse embryo. Here we report the developmental expression and localization of CRABP and CRABP-II in rat testis. Northern blot analysis of CRABP-II demonstrated the highest messenger RNA expression on day 4 (the earliest time point assayed by this technique), decreasing thereafter until day 20, when it became undetectable. Western blot analysis, begun on day 19 of fetal development, indicated that high levels of protein expression in the testis already existed at that time. CRABP messenger RNA expression reached its highest levels between postnatal days 16-20 and decreased thereafter. Immunolocalization revealed that CRABP-II was confined to the fetal population of Leydig and Sertoli cells. We observed that CRABP-II was expressed in certain cells that synthesized retinoic acid in the uterus and ovary (unpublished). The expression of CRABP-II in Sertoli cells and fetal Leydig cells suggested that these cells may well be the site of RA synthesis in the developing testis. CRABP was localized to gonocytes in earlier stages and spermatogonia later, where it was clearly excluded from the nucleus, indicating that the role of CRABP may be to protect these cells from the effects of RA. The reported expression of CRABP-II in embryonal tissues, which are RA responsive and undergoing morphogenesis, coupled with CRABP-II expression in the testis at a critical morphogenic stage suggest that RA may play a prominent role in the morphogenesis of the testis.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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