Planar cell polarity (PCP) proteins support spermatogenesis through cytoskeletal organization in the testis

Lingling Wang, Tiao Bu, Linxi Li, Xiaolong Wu, Chris K. C. Wong, Adolfo Perrotta, Bruno Silvestrini, Fei Sun, C. Yan Cheng*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Few reports are found in the literature regarding the role of planar cell polarity (PCP) in supporting spermatogenesis in the testis. Yet morphological studies reported decades earlier have illustrated the directional alignment of polarized developing spermatids, most notably step 17–19 spermatids in stage V-early VIII tubules in the testis, across the plane of the epithelium in seminiferous tubules of adult rats. Such morphological features have unequivocally demonstrated the presence of PCP in developing spermatids, analogous to the PCP noted in hair cells of the cochlea in mammals. Emerging evidence in recent years has shown that Sertoli and germ cells express numerous PCP proteins, mostly notably, the core PCP proteins, PCP effectors and PCP signaling proteins. In this review, we discuss recent findings in the field regarding the two core PCP protein complexes, namely the Van Gogh-like 2 (Vangl2)/Prickle (Pk) complex and the Frizzled (Fzd)/Dishevelled (Dvl) complex. These findings have illustrated that these PCP proteins exert their regulatory role to support spermatogenesis through changes in the organization of actin and microtubule (MT) cytoskeletons in Sertoli cells. For instance, these PCP proteins confer PCP to developing spermatids. As such, developing haploid spermatids can be aligned and orderly packed within the limited space of the seminiferous tubules in the testes for the production of sperm via spermatogenesis. Thus, each adult male in the mouse, rat or human can produce an upward of 30, 50 or 300 million spermatozoa on a daily basis, respectively, throughout the adulthood. We also highlight critical areas of research that deserve attention in future studies. We also provide a hypothetical model by which PCP proteins support spermatogenesis based on recent studies in the testis. It is conceivable that the hypothetical model shown here will be updated as more data become available in future years, but this information can serve as the framework by investigators to unravel the role of PCP in spermatogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-113
Number of pages15
JournalSeminars in Cell and Developmental Biology
Early online date29 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

User-Defined Keywords

  • Cytoskeletons
  • F-actin
  • Microtubules
  • PCP proteins
  • Sertoli cells
  • Spermatogenesis
  • Testis


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