In the mammalian testis, germ cell development is orchestrated by a complex combination of both autocrine and paracrine chemosignaling mechanisms. Within the seminiferous tubules, Sertoli cells provide structural and functional support for germ cells at various stages of development. Peritubular cells build the tubular wall and are involved in establishing the spermatogonial stem cell niche. How do these different cells communicate to orchestrate the seminiferous cycle? Which chemical signals promote germ cell entry into meiosis? Which factors provide spermatogonial cell identity?
Using a combination of live-cell imaging and patch-clamp recordings in both in vitro and in situ preparations, we aim to elucidate some of the molecular mechanisms underlying testicular cell communication in mammals. In this context, we concentrate on purinergic signaling in Sertoli and peritubular cells as well as spermatogonia. Moreover, we are interested in the distinct role(s) of mitochondrial calcium signaling in the three different cell types.