By differential display technique followed by RT-PCR and DNA sequence analyses, we isolated carcinoembryonic antigen-related cell adhesion molecule 6 (Ceacam6) and its novel spliced variant Ceacam6-Long (Ceacam6-L) from rat testis. Ceacam6-L mRNA was generated by retention of 67 nucleotide-length third intron in Ceacam6 gene. Ceacam6-L is a member of an immunoglobulin superfamily and encodes a protein of 50 kDa with a signal sequence at the N-terminus, one immunoglobulin (Ig)-like domain, three IgCAM domains, a transmembrane region, and a short intracellular region. Expression analyses by RT-PCR and Northern blot showed that Ceacam6-L was exclusively expressed in rat testis and first detectable at 5 wk during postnatal development of testis. We performed immunoblot analyses and immunohistochemistry using the anti-CEACAM6-L antibody. Confocal laser scanning microscopy revealed that CEACAM6-L was not present at blood-testis barrier junctions between Sertoli cells but localized at the interface between Sertoli cells and germ cells, possibly to work as an adhesion molecule in the apical compartment of the seminiferous epithelium. At stages VII–VIII, at which all of the elongated spermatids migrated to the luminal surface of the seminiferous tubules, CEACAM6-L was found to locate at the concave side of elongated spermatid heads, following the curvature of their sickle-shaped nuclei, suggesting that CEACAM6-L might be involved in the anchoring of spermatids to Sertoli cells and spermiation. We concluded that CEACAM6-L might be a novel adhesion molecule constructing the apical ectoplasmic specialization in testis.
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Vol. 79 • No. 6