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Dev Biol. 1993 May;157(1):182-90.

Binding of germ cells to mutant Sld Sertoli cells is defective and is rescued by expression of the transmembrane form of the c-kit ligand.

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European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg, Germany.


Mutations in the steel (Sl) locus, encoding the c-kit ligand (KL), are associated with impaired germ cell development in mice. Two forms of KL exist: one more steadily associated with the plasma membrane and one more easily released as a soluble protein. We report here that the expression of the two mRNAs coding for the two different form of KL is developmentally regulated in mouse testis. At birth the two mRNAs are expressed at an equal ratio. Starting after 6 days of life, and in parallel to initiation of germ cell differentiation, the mRNA encoding the membrane-associated form of KL becomes more abundant. Germ cells, and especially spermatogonia, express c-kit; thus membrane-bound KL could mediate adhesion between Sertoli cells and germ cells. We find, in fact, that Sertoli cells from Sl/Sld mutant mice, which do not express the mRNA for the membrane-associated form of KL, are unable to bind germ cells. Introduction of a plasmid expressing the transmembrane form, but not the soluble form, of KL restores the ability of Sertoli cells from Sl/Sld mutant mice to bind germ cells. These data suggest that preferential expression of the membrane-anchored form of KL in Sertoli cells may have a role in mediating adhesion of c-kit-expressing germ cells to Sertoli cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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