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Front Biosci. 2006 Sep 1;11:2144-56.

Signaling events during male germ cell differentiation: update, 2006.

Author information

1
Dipartimento di Biologia, Universita di Milano, Via Celoria 26, 20133 Milan, Italy. giovanna.berruti@unimi.it

Abstract

The intracellular transduction of exogenous and cell-autonomous stimuli triggers the transformation of a multipotent stem cell, the spermatogonion, into a highly differentiated, motile and fertile cell, the spermatozoon. This differentiation process is mediated by cell-cell contact and via key players including hormones, growth factors, and cytokines. Female hormones, estrogens and progestins, play a role in the production and functionality of spermatozoon. New findings, however, reconsider the direct action for estrogens on male germ cells while progestins work through non-canonical receptors. Similarly, testosterone, the male hormone, besides acting through its receptor expressed in the somatic cells of testis, seems to work by means of non-classical mechanisms. The recent identification of growth factors, transcriptional regulators, and media for in vitro growth of spermatogonial stem cells should now make it feasible to unravel the entire spermatogenic process. A peculiar feature of the meiotic cycle is the maintenance of condensed chromatin so that DNA duplication is prevented and reduction of genome is achieved. Recently, molecular mechanisms that lead to such a condensation have been discovered. Junctional intercellular complexes between Sertoli and germ cells are critical for coordinating spermatogenesis. Molecular players involved in such cell-cell communication have been identified in Sertoli cells. Now, there is also a need for unravelling the germ cell molecules involved. These issues are the major topics which are discussed here with the goal to suggest a possible answer.

PMID:
16720301
DOI:
10.2741/1957
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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