Connexin43 in germ cells seems to be dispensable for murine spermatogenesis
Testicular Connexin43 (Cx43) connects adjacent Sertoli cells (SC) and SC to germ cells (GC) in the seminiferous epithelium and plays a crucial role in spermatogenesis. However, the distinction whether this results from impaired inter-SC communication or between GC and SC is not possible, so far. Thus, the question arises, whether a GC-specific Cx43 KO has similar effects on spermatogenesis as it is general or SC-specific KO. Using the Cre/loxP recombinase system, two conditional KO mouse lines lacking Cx43 in premeiotic (pGCCx43KO) or meiotic GC (mGCCx43KO) were generated. It was demonstrated by qRT-PCR that Cx43 mRNA was significantly decreased in adult pGCCx43KO mice, while it was also reduced in mGCCx43KO mice, yet not statistically significant. Body and testis weights, testicular histology, tubular diameter, numbers of intratubular cells and Cx43 protein synthesis and localization did not show any significant differences in semi-quantitative Western blot analysis and immunohistochemistry comparing adult male KO and WT mice of both mouse lines. Male KO mice were fertile. These results indicate that Cx43 in spermatogonia/spermatids does not seem to be essential for successful termination of spermatogenesis and fertility as it is known for Cx43 in somatic SC, but SC-GC communication might rather occur via heterotypic GJ channels.