Detection of the neurohypophysial hormones vasopressin (AVP) and oxytocin (OT) in the testis of several species has led to the proposal that these peptides may have a physiological role in the regulation of testicular function. Therefore, we investigated whether the contractile myoid cells of rat seminiferous tubules express functional receptors for AVP or OT and, thus, constitute a target for these hormones. This study used primary cultures of purified peritubular myoid cells derived from rats both before and after puberty. By several criteria, myoid cells prepared from adult rats expressed vasopressin receptors (VPRs). We detected specific and saturable [3H]AVP binding to a single population of sites with a Kd of 7.5 nM and a binding capacity of 145 fmol/mg protein. AVP stimulated the accumulation of inositol phosphates in a dose-dependent manner with an EC50 of 1.7 nM. Cloning and sequencing of the myoid cell VPR confirmed it to be the V1a subtype of VPR. VPR expression by myoid cells is under developmentalcontrol, as the receptors are present in the adult rat, but absent before puberty. In contrast, OTreceptors were not expressed at any stage of development. Peritubular myoid cells are also responsive to endothelin-1 (ET-1), which potently stimulated phosphoinositidase-C. However, unlike AVP, the ET-1 responses were observed both before and after sexual maturity, suggesting different roles for AVP and ET-1 in the control of myoid cell function. Our data establish that the myoid cells ofthe adult rat seminiferous tubule are a target for AVP. This indicates an additional role for AVP in the regulation of testicular function and male fertility in the adult rat.
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