Scanning Microscopy


Specialized germ cell-somatic cell relation-ships were. surveyed in the testis of species representative of four classes of non-mammalian vertebrates. Desmosome-like junctions were present in all classes studied. In the teleost fish studied (bluegill; Lepomis macrochirus) small, infrequent desmosomes, seen between the spherical cyst cells and spermatocytes were characterized by poorly represented subsurface densities. In the bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana), similar desmosome-like junctions were found between cyst cell processes and spermatocytes. Reptilian. (turtle; Pseudameys scripta) desmosome-like Junctions between Sertoli cells and germ cells were heterogeneous and more numerous than those junctions found in fish and amphibians: In general, the reptilian desmosome-like Junctions were extensive structures displaying 10 nm filaments associated with the Sertoli cell component of the junctions. Regions within the desmosome where the two plasma membranes converged suggested that gap junctions were a component of the desmosome-like junctions. "Desmosome-gap" junctions persisted in turtle spermatids for sometime after nuclear elongation had commenced. In birds (chicken; Gallus domesticus), "desmosome-gap" junctions similar to those seen in turtles were described between both spermatocytes and Sertoli cells, and spermatids and Sertoli cells. These junctions were frequently lined by saccules of endoplasmic reticulum. The presence of gap junctions suggest the evolution of mechanisms for somatic cell-germ cell communication although more species should be examined to confirm this hypothesis.

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