We demonstrated in this study that liver receptor homolog-1 (LRH-1) was expressed in the round spermatids in normal monkey testis, and no LRH-1 signal was observed in the Sertoli cells. After local warming (43 C) the monkey testis, however, LRH-1 expression was induced in the Sertoli cells in coincidence with activation of cytokeratin 18 (CK-18), a Sertoli cell dedifferentiated marker. Furthermore, we isolated rat primary Sertoli cells from testes at various stages of development and treated with 43 C water in vitro. The changes in LRH-1 as well as CK-18 expression were analyzed by confocal immunohistochemistry and Western blot. The results showed that LRH-1 was stage-dependently expressed in the Sertoli cells; no LRH-1-positive signal was detected in the cells obtained from the testes of adult rat on d 60 after birth when mature spermatozoa in the testis was completed. However, the mature Sertoli cells were warmed at the 43 C water bath for 15 min, and the LRH-1 signal was remarkably induced in a time-dependent manner, just like the changes of CK-18 expression in the Sertoli cells, suggesting that the heat-induced dedifferentiation of the mature Sertoli cells might be related to LRH-1 regulation. LRH-1 expression induced by the heat treatment was completely inhibited by the addition of ERK inhibitor U0126 in the culture, indicating that the heat-induced LRH-1 expression in the Sertoli cells may be regulated via ERK1/2 activation pathway. Testosterone was found to have no such effect on LRH-1 expression in the monkey and rat Sertoli cells.
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