Sertoli cells control peritubular myoid cell fate and support adult leydig cell development in the prepubertal testis

Diane Rebourcet, Peter J. O'Shaughnessy, Jean Luc Pitetti, Ana Monteiro, Laura O'Hara, Laura Milne, Yi Ting Tsai, Lyndsey Cruickshanks, Dieter Riethmacher, Florian Guillou, Rod T. Mitchell, Rob van't Hof, Tom C. Freeman, Serge Nef, Lee B. Smith

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78 Citations (Scopus)


Sertoli cells (SCs) regulate testicular fate in the differentiating gonad and are the main regulators of spermatogenesis in the adult testis; however, their role during the intervening period of testis development, in particular during adult Leydig cell (ALC) differentiation and function, remains largely unknown. To examine SC function during fetal and prepubertal development we generated two transgenic mouse models that permit controlled, cell-specific ablation of SCs in pre-and postnatal life. Results show that SCs are required: (1) to maintain the differentiated phenotype of peritubular myoid cells (PTMCs) in prepubertal life; (2) to maintain the ALC progenitor population in the postnatal testis; and (3) for development of normal ALC numbers. Furthermore, our data show that fetal LCs function independently from SC, germ cell or PTMC support in the prepubertal testis. Together, these findings reveal that SCs remain essential regulators of testis development long after the period of sex determination. These findings have significant implications for our understanding of male reproductive disorders and wider androgen-related conditions affecting male health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2139-2149
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopment (Cambridge)
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Diphtheria
  • Leydig
  • Male fertility
  • Mouse
  • Peritubular myoid
  • Sertoli
  • Testis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology

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