The degree of germ cell dependence on Sertoli cell-mediated activities has been a subject of considerable attention. Sertoli cell secretory pathways have been extensively studied both in an effort to understand their normal physiologic roles and as targets for pharmacologic and toxicant activity. To determine the degree to which normal spermatogenesis depends on key functions of the Sertoli cell microtubule network, adenoviral vectors that overexpress the microtubule nucleating protein, γ-tubulin, were delivered to Sertoli cells in vivo. γ-Tubulin overexpression disrupts the Sertoli cell microtubule network (as described in the companion article); leads to gross disorganization of the seminiferous epithelium, inducing retention of spermatids and residual bodies; and causes germ cell apoptosis. These data are consistent with earlier studies in which toxicants and pharmacologic agents were used to disrupt microtubule networks. These data confirm that Sertoli cell microtubule networks play an important role in maintaining the organization of the seminiferous epithelium and that in the absence of an intact Sertoli cell microtubule network, germ cell viability is impaired.
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