In the mammalian testis, peritubular myoid cells (PMCs) surround seminiferous tubules. These cells are contractile, express the cytoskeletal markers of true smooth muscle—alpha-isoactin and F-actin—and participate in the contraction of seminiferous tubules during the transport of spermatozoa and testicular fluid to the rete testis. Myosin from PMCs (PMC-myosin) was isolated from adult rat testis and purified by cycles of assembly-disassembly and sucrose gradient centrifugation. PMC-myosin was recognized by a monoclonal anti-smooth muscle myosin antibody, and the peptide sequence shared partial homology with rat smooth muscle myosin-II, MYH11 (also known as SMM-II). Most PMC-myosin (95%) was soluble in the PMC cytosol, and purified PMC-myosin did not assemble into filaments in the in vitro salt dialysis assay at 4°C, but did at 20°C. PMC-myosin filaments are stable to ionic strength to the same degree as gizzard MYH11 filaments, but PMC-myosin filaments were more unstable in the presence of ATP. When PMCs were induced to contract by endothelin 1, a fraction of the PMC-myosin was found to be involved in the contraction. From these results we infer that PMCs express an isoform of smooth muscle myosin-II that is characterized by solubility at physiological ionic strength, a requirement for high temperature to assemble into filaments in vitro, and instability at low ATP concentrations. PMC-myosin is part of the PMC contraction apparatus when PMCs are stimulated with endothelin 1.
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Vol. 79 • No. 6