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J Androl. 2011 Jul-Aug;32(4):444-63. doi: 10.2164/jandrol.110.010694. Epub 2010 Nov 4.

Alterations in the testis and epididymis associated with loss of function of the cystatin-related epididymal spermatogenic (CRES) protein.

Author information

1
Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.

Abstract

Cystatin-related epididymal spermatogenic protein (CRES) or cystatin 8 (Cst8 gene) is a member of the cystatin superfamily of cysteine protease inhibitors. It differs from typical cystatins because it lacks consensus sites for cysteine protease inhibition and exhibits reproductive-specific expression. In the present study, we examined CRES expression within the testes, efferent ducts, and epididymides of normal mice by light microscope immunolocalization. Alterations to these tissues in male mice lacking the Cst8 gene (Cst8(-/-2)) were also characterized by histomorphometry and electron microscopy. In the normal testis, CRES was localized exclusively in mid and late elongating spermatids. In the efferent ducts, CRES was localized to the apical region of the epithelial cells suggestive of localization in the endosomes. In the initial segment of the epididymis, principal cells showed supranuclear and luminal reactions. In the cauda region, CRES was present exclusively as aggregates in the lumen and was detected in clear cells. Compared with wild-type mice (Cst8(+/+)), older (10-12 months) Cst8(-/-) mice had modest but statistically significant reductions in tubular, epithelial, and/or luminal profile areas in the testis and epididymis. By electron microscopy, some Cst8(-/-) tubules in the testis were normal in appearance, but others showed a vacuolated seminiferous epithelium, degenerating germ cells, and alterations to ectoplasmic specializations. In the epididymal lumen, abnormally shaped sperm heads and tails were noted along with immature germ cells. In addition, principal cells contained numerous large irregularly shaped lysosomes suggestive of disrupted lysosomal functions. In both the testis and epididymis, however, these abnormalities were not apparent in younger mice (4 months), only in the older (10-12 months) Cst8(-/-) mice. These findings suggest that the altered testicular and epididymal histology reflects a cumulative effect of the loss of CRES and support a role for CRES in maintaining the normal integrity and function of the testis and epididymis.

PMID:
21051588
PMCID:
PMC3215337
DOI:
10.2164/jandrol.110.010694
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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