Journal Article

Adjudin disrupts spermatogenesis via the action of some unlikely partners: Eps8, Arp2/3 complex, drebrin E, PAR6 and 14-3-3

Adjudin, 1-(2,4-dichlorobenzyl)-1H-indazole-3-carbohydrazide (formerly called AF-2364), is a potent analog of lonidamine [1-(2,4-dichlorobenzyl)-1H-indazole-3-carboxylic acid] known to disrupt germ cell adhesion, most notably elongating and elongated spermatids, in the seminiferous epithelium of adult rat testes and thus, leads to infertility in rats. Since the population of spermatogonia and spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) in the seminiferous tubules is not significantly reduced by the treatment of rats with adjudin, adjudin-induced infertility is highly reversible with the use of appropriate regimens, which enables re-initiation of spermatogenesis and germ cell re-population of the voided seminiferous epithelium. Furthermore, adjudin appears to exert its effects at the testis-specific atypical adherens junction (AJ) type known as ectoplasmic specialization (ES), most notably the apical ES at the Sertoli cell-spermatid interface. Thus, the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis is not unaffected and systemic side-effects are minimal. This also makes adjudin a potential candidate for male contraceptive development. Herein, we critically evaluate recent findings in the field and provide an updated model regarding the mechanism underlying adjudin-induced apical ES disruption. In short, adjudin targets actin filament bundles at the apical ES, the hallmark of this testis-specific junction type not found in any other epithelia/endothelia in mammals, by suppressing the expression of Eps8 (epidermal growth factor receptor pathway substrate 8), an actin capping protein that also plays a role in actin bundling, so that actin filament bundles can no longer be maintained at the apical ES. This is concomitant with a mis-localization of Arp3 (actin-related protein 3, a component of the Arp2/3 complex that induces actin nucleation/branching), causing “unwanted” actin branching, further destabilizing actin filament bundles at the apical ES. Additionally, adjudin blocks the expression of PAR6 (partitioning defective protein 6) and 14-3-3 (also known as PAR5) considerably at the apical ES, disrupting the homeostasis of endocytic vesicle-mediated protein trafficking, which in turn leads to an increase in protein endocytosis. The net result of these changes destabilizes cell adhesion and induces degeneration of the apical ES, causing premature release of spermatids, mimicking spermiation.