Cell fate commitment during mammalian sex determination.
The gonads form bilaterally as bipotential organs that can develop as testes or ovaries. All secondary sex characteristics that we associate with 'maleness' or 'femaleness' depend on whether testes or ovaries form. The fate of the gonads depends on a cell fate decision that occurs in a somatic cell referred to as the 'supporting cell lineage'. Once supporting cell progenitors commit to Sertoli (male) or granulosa (female) fate, they propagate this decision to the other cells within the organ. In this review, we will describe what is known about the bipotential state of somatic and germ cell lineages in the gonad and the transcriptional and antagonistic signaling networks that lead to commitment, propagation, and maintenance of testis or ovary fate.
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