KIF15 supports spermatogenesis via its effects on Sertoli cell microtubule, actin, vimentin, and septin cytoskeletons

Siwen Wu, Lixiu Lv, Linxi Li, Lingling Wang, Baiping Mao, Jun Li, Xian Shen, Renshan Ge, Chris K C Wong, Fei Sun, C. Yan Cheng*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Throughout spermatogenesis, cellular cargoes including haploid spermatids are required to be transported across the seminiferous epithelium, either toward the microtubule (MT) plus (+) end near the basement membrane at stage V, or to the MT minus (-) end near the tubule lumen at stages VI to VIII of the epithelial cycle. Furthermore, preleptotene spermatocytes, differentiated from type B spermatogonia, are transported across the Sertoli cell blood-testis barrier (BTB) to enter the adluminal compartment. Few studies, however, have been conducted to explore the function of MT-dependent motor proteins to support spermatid transport during spermiogenesis. Herein, we examined the role of MT-dependent and microtubule plus (+) end-directed motor protein kinesin 15 (KIF15) in the testis. KIF15 displayed a stage-specific expression across the seminiferous epithelium, associated with MTs, and appeared as aggregates on the MT tracks that aligned perpendicular to the basement membrane and laid across the entire epithelium. KIF15 also tightly associated with apical ectoplasmic specialization, displaying strict stage-specific distribution, apparently to support spermatid transport across the epithelium. We used a loss-of-function approach by RNAi to examine the role of KIF15 in Sertoli cell epithelium in vitro to examine its role in cytoskeletal-dependent Sertoli cell function. It was noted that KIF15 knockdown by RNAi that reduced KIF15 expression by ~70% in Sertoli cells with an established functional tight junction barrier impeded the barrier function. This effect was mediated through remarkable changes in the cytoskeletal organization of MTs, but also actin-, vimentin-, and septin-based cytoskeletons, illustrating that KIF15 exerts its regulatory effects well beyond microtubules.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberbqab010
Number of pages23
Issue number4
Early online date16 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Endocrinology

User-Defined Keywords

  • blood-testis barrier
  • cargo transport
  • cytoskeleton
  • KIF15
  • microtubule
  • microtubule-dependent motor protein
  • Sertoli cells
  • spermatid transport
  • spermatogenesis
  • testis


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