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Dev Biol. 1986 Sep;117(1):35-44.

Transient coexpression of cytokeratin and vimentin in differentiating rat Sertoli cells.


The expression of cytokeratin and vimentin type intermediate filaments were studied in fetal, postnatal, and adult rat testes. Immunocytochemical observations were correlated with the light and electron microscopic analysis of the developing organs. The Sertoli cell precursors in 15-day-old fetal testes contained both cytokeratin and vimentin. A gradual reorganization of both filaments, accompanied by a decrease of cytokeratin-positivity, was observed toward the end of the fetal period. The simultaneous presence of cytokeratin and vimentin in the same cells was shown by double immunofluorescence of newborn testes and the primary culture of dissociated testicular cells. In postnatal Sertoli cells, cytokeratin-positivity continued to decrease and disappeared by the age of 14 days. The increase in vimentin content and the appearance of axially oriented vimentin filaments coincided with the acquisition of the columnar shape of the Sertoli cells. The presence of cytokeratin and vimentin in fetal and newborn testes, and only vimentin in the adult testes was confirmed by immunoblotting. The present results suggest that major qualitative changes in the expression of intermediate filament proteins can take place during the embryonic development. The expression of cytokeratin in developing Sertoli cells, although only transient, supports the epithelial origin of these cells and can be applied as a marker for embryonic and early postnatal Sertoli cells.

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