Studies from our laboratory support a model in which growth factors produced in the testis reach the epididymis via the luminal system and play an important role in maintaining the function of epithelial cells, particularly in the initial segment. Previous work showed that γ-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT) mRNA IV, which is highly expressed in the rat initial segment, may be under the control of luminal fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF-2) from the testis. The current studies were undertaken to identify which fibroblast growth factor receptors (FGFRs) are present in the principal cells of the rat initial segment and to identify other potential ligands for these receptors in rat rete testis fluid (RTF). Immunoblot analysis revealed that FGFRs 1–4 were present, and reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis confirmed that both the IIIb and IIIc splice variants of FGFRs 1–3 were expressed. However, RT-PCR using RNA isolated from principal cells collected by laser capture microdissection revealed only FGFR-1 IIIc. Additional PCR analysis established that both the α and β forms of FGFR-1 IIIc were expressed in principal cells. Both FGF-4 and FGF-8 were present in rat RTF, as determined by immunoblotting. Thus, FGF-2, -4, and -8, found in RTF, may act upon FGFR-1 IIIc in the principal cells of the initial segment to regulate GGT mRNA IV expression.
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