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Atypical septate junctions maintain the somatic enclosure around maturing spermatids and prevent premature sperm release in Drosophila testis.

Tight junctions prevent the paracellular flow and maintain cell polarity in an epithelium. These are also essential for maintaining the blood-testis-barrier involved in regulating sperm differentiation. Septate junctions are orthologous to the tight junctions in insects. In Drosophila testis, major septate junction components co-localize at the interface of germline and somatic cells initially and then condense between the two somatic cells in a cyst after germline meiosis. Their localization is extensively remodeled in subsequent stages. We find that characteristic septate junctions are formed between the somatic cyst cells at the elongated spermatid stage. Consistent with the previous reports, knockdown of essential junctional components, Discs-large-1 and Neurexin-IV, in the somatic cyst cells, during the early stages, disrupted sperm differentiation beyond the spermatocyte stage. Somatic knockdown of these proteins during the final stages of spermatid maturation caused premature release of spermatids inside the testes, resulting in partial loss of male fertility. These results indicate the importance of maintaining mechanical integrity of the somatic enclosure during spermatid coiling and release in Drosophila testis. It also highlights the functional similarity with the tight junction proteins during spermatogenesis in mammalian testes.\n\nSummary statementDubey et al., showed that septate junctions stitch the somatic enclosure around maturing spermatids in Drosophila testis. Maintaining the integrity of this junction is essential for proper release of spermatids.
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Updated on January 11, 2019
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