Gonadal steroids and FSH are key regulators of Sertoli cell function. N- Cadherin (N-cad) is a calcium-dependent cell adhesion molecule that mediates Sertoli cell-germ cell interactions. We recently demonstrated that steroids, in particular estradiol, are potent regulators of testicular N-cad messenger RNA (mRNA) levels in vivo. In view of the cooperative effects of steroids and FSH on Sertoli cell-germ cell interactions, we examined the combined effects of these hormones on N-cad mRNA levels in cultured mouse Sertoli cells. FSH was capable of increasing N-cad mRNA levels 2-fold in these cells. The effects of FSH on N-cad mRNA levels in cultured Sertoli cells were mimicked by cAMP-inducing agents. Treatment of the Sertoli cell cultures with FSH and estradiol stimulated N-cad mRNA levels 3-fold, whereas steroids alone had no effect on N-cad mRNA levels. These studies demonstrate that FSH and estradiol in combination are required to achieve maximal N-cad mRNA levels in cultured Sertoli cells. The results obtained from these studies substantiate the hypothesis that estrogens play a pivotal role in regulating spermatogenesis.
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