Raptor directs Sertoli cell cytoskeletal organization and polarity in the mouse testis

Zhi Xiong, Caixia Wang, Zilong Wang, Huaiqian Dai, Qiancheng Song, Zhipeng Zou, Bo Xiao, Allen Zijian Zhao, Xiaochun Bai, Zhenguo Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Sertoli cells (SCs) play a central role in testis development, and their normal number and functions are required for spermatogenesis. Although the canonical tuberous sclerosis complex-mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1(TSC-mTORC1) pathway is critical for testis development and spermatogenesis, the signaling mechanisms governing SC functions remain unclear. In this study, we generated two SC-specific mouse mutants using the Cre-LoxP system. Loss of Raptor (a key component of mTORC1) caused severe tubular degeneration in the neonatal testis and adult mice displayed azoospermia, while adult Rheb (an upstream activator for mTORC1) mutant mice had intact tubules and many sperm in their epididymides. Disruption of cytoskeletal organization, including actin, microtubules, and SC-intrinsic vimentin, was observed in Raptor but not Rheb mutant mice. We investigated the reasons for these different effects by whole-transcriptome sequencing, and found that expression of the tight junction adaptor protein cingulin was significantly reduced in Raptor mutant mice. The expression profile of cingulin was synchronous with the differentiation and cytoskeletal dynamics of SCs in control mice, but was disordered in Raptor mutant mice. Furthermore, activity of the small GTPase Rac1 was reduced and expression of the guanine exchange factor for Rac1, Asef, was decreased in Raptor but not Rheb mutant mice. Collectively, these findings establish novel functions of Raptor, independent of the canonical Rheb/mTORC1 pathway, in controlling cytoskeletal homeostasis and cell polarity in SCs, by affecting cingulin expression and Rac1 activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1289-1302
Number of pages14
JournalBiology of reproduction
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


  • Sertoli cell
  • cell polarity
  • raptor
  • spermatogenesis
  • testis development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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