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Development. 2018 Jul 6. pii: dev.161323. doi: 10.1242/dev.161323. [Epub ahead of print]

Dynamic cytoplasmic projections connect mammalian spermatogonia in vivo.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, USA.
Department of Cell Biology, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT 06030, USA.
Center for Drug Discovery and Department of Pathology and Immunology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.
Department of Biology, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78249, USA.
Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, USA
East Carolina Diabetes and Obesity Institute at East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, USA.


Throughout the male reproductive lifespan, spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) produce committed progenitors that proliferate and then remain physically connected in growing clones via short cylindrical intercellular bridges (ICBs). These ICBs, which enlarge in meiotic spermatocytes, have been demonstrated to provide a conduit for postmeiotic haploid spermatids to share sex chromosome-derived gene products. In addition to ICBs, spermatogonia exhibit multiple thin cytoplasmic projections. Here, we explored the nature of these projections, and found they are dynamic, span considerable distances from their cell body (≥25µm), either terminate or physically connect multiple adjacent spermatogonia, and allow for sharing of macromolecules. Our results extend the current model that subsets of spermatogonia exist as isolated cells or clones and support a model by which spermatogonia of similar developmental fates are functionally connected through a shared dynamic cytoplasm mediated by thin cytoplasmic projections.


Intercellular bridge; Spermatogenesis; Spermatogonia; TEX14; Testis


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