Plastins are a family of actin binding proteins (ABPs) known to cross-link actin microfilaments in mammalian cells, creating actin microfilament bundles necessary to confer cell polarity and cell shape. Plastins also support cell movement in response to changes in environment, involved in cell/tissue growth and development. They also confer plasticity to cells and tissues in response to infection or other pathological conditions (e.g., inflammation). In the testis, the cell-cell anchoring junction unique to the testis that is found at the Sertoli cell-cell interface at the blood-testis barrier (BTB) and at the Sertoli-spermatid (e.g., 8-19 spermatids in the rat testis) is the basal and the apical ectoplasmic specialization (ES), respectively. The ES is an F-actin-rich anchoring junction constituted most notably by actin microfilament bundles. A recent report using RNAi that specifically knocks down plastin 3 has yielded some insightful information regarding the mechanism by which plastin 3 regulates the status of actin microfilament bundles at the ES via its intrinsic actin filament bundling activity. Herein, we provide a brief review on the role of plastins in the testis in light of this report, which together with recent findings in the field, we propose a likely model by which plastins regulate ES function during the epithelial cycle of spermatogenesis via their intrinsic activity on actin microfilament organization in the rat testis.
Scopus Subject Areas
- actin binding proteins
- actin bundling proteins
- seminiferous epithelial cycle