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Volume 23, Issue 2 (March 2021) 23, 123–128; 10.4103/aja.aja_44_20

NC1-peptide derived from collagen α3 (IV) chain is a blood-tissue barrier regulator: lesson from the testis

Shi-Wen Liu1,2, Hui-Tao Li1,2, Ren-Shan Ge1, C Yan Cheng1,2

1 The Second Affiliated Hospital and Yuying Children's Hospital, Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou 325027, China
2 The Mary M. Wohlford Laboratory for Male Contraceptive Research, Center for Biomedical Research, Population Council, 1230 York Ave, New York, NY 10065, USA

Correspondence: Dr. CY Cheng (yancheng01@aol.com)

Date of Submission 04-Feb-2020 Date of Acceptance 26-May-2020 Date of Web Publication 08-Sep-2020


Collagen α3 (IV) chains are one of the major constituent components of the basement membrane in the mammalian testis. Studies have shown that biologically active fragments, such as noncollagenase domain (NC1)-peptide, can be released from the C-terminal region of collagen α3 (IV) chains, possibly through the proteolytic action of metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9). NC1-peptide was shown to promote blood–testis barrier (BTB) remodeling and fully developed spermatid (e.g., sperm) release from the seminiferous epithelium because this bioactive peptide was capable of perturbing the organization of both actin- and microtubule (MT)-based cytoskeletons at the Sertoli cell–cell and also Sertoli–spermatid interface, the ultrastructure known as the basal ectoplasmic specialization (ES) and apical ES, respectively. More importantly, recent studies have shown that this NC1-peptide-induced effects on cytoskeletal organization in the testis are mediated through an activation of mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1/ribosomal protein S6/transforming retrovirus Akt1/2 protein (mTORC1/rpS6/Akt1/2) signaling cascade, involving an activation of cell division control protein 42 homolog (Cdc42) GTPase, but not Ras homolog family member A GTPase (RhoA), and the participation of end-binding protein 1 (EB1), a microtubule plus (+) end tracking protein (+TIP), downstream. Herein, we critically evaluate these findings, providing a critical discussion by which the basement membrane modulates spermatogenesis through one of its locally generated regulatory peptides in the testis.

Keywords: collagen α3 (IV) chain; F-actin; microtubules; noncollagenase domain (NC1)-peptide; spermatogenesis; testis

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