Claudin 3 is a protein component of the tight junction strands. Tight junctions between adjacent Sertoli cells form the blood-testis barrier (BTB). During spermatogenesis, seminiferous stage-specific expression of claudin 3 is believed to regulate the migration of preleptotene/leptotene spermatocytes across the BTB. Here, we determined the cell types expressing claudin 3 in adult mouse testis and investigated spermatogenesis after testis-specific in vivo knockdown of claudin 3. The results of in situ hybridization revealed that claudin 3 mRNA was predominantly expressed in germ cells near the basal lamina of seminiferous tubules at stages VI–IX. Furthermore, claudin 3 protein was localized not only to the BTB but also to the cell membrane of STRA8-expressing preleptotene/leptotene spermatocytes in the testis of adult ICR.Cg-Tg(Stra8-EGFP)1Ysa/YsaRbrc mice. Although claudin 3 knockdown did not affect BTB integrity, it did cause a partial delay in spermatocyte migration across the BTB. Moreover, claudin 3 knockdown resulted in a prolonged preleptotene phase during spermatogenesis. These data indicate that the seminiferous stage-specific expression and localization of claudin 3 during spermatogenesis regulate the progression of meiosis by promoting germ cell migration across the BTB.
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Vol. 89 • No. 1