Primary cilia are sensory organelles that coordinate numerous cellular signalling pathways during development and adulthood. Defects in ciliary assembly or function lead to a series of developmental disorders and diseases commonly referred to as ciliopathies. Still, little is known about the formation and function of primary cilia in the mammalian testis. Here, we characterized primary cilia in adult human testis and report a constitutive expression of cilia in peritubular myoid cells and a dynamic expression of cilia in differentiating Leydig cells. Primary cilia are generally absent from cells of mature seminiferous epithelium, but present in Sertoli cell-only tubules in Klinefelter syndrome testis. Peritubular cells in atrophic testis produce overly long cilia. Furthermore cultures of growth-arrested immature mouse Leydig cells express primary cilia that are enriched in components of Hedgehog signalling, including Smoothened, Patched-1, and GLI2, which are involved in regulating Leydig cell differentiation. Stimulation of Hedgehog signalling increases the localization of Smoothened to the cilium, which is followed by transactivation of the Hedgehog target genes, Gli1 and Ptch1. Our findings provide new information on the spatiotemporal formation of primary cilia in the testis and show that primary cilia in immature Leydig cells mediate Hedgehog signalling.
- Germ cell tumours