Mesonephric cell migration induces testis cord formation and Sertoli cell differentiation in the mammalian gonad.
In mammals a single gene on the Y chromosome, Sry, controls testis formation. One of the earliest effects of Sry expression is the induction of somatic cell migration from the mesonephros into the XY gonad. Here we show that mesonephric cells are required for cord formation and male-specific gene expression in XY gonads in a stage-specific manner. Culturing XX gonads with an XY gonad at their surface, as a 'sandwich', resulted in cell migration into the XX tissue. Analysis of sandwich gonads revealed that in the presence of migrating cells, XX gonads organized cord structures and acquired male-specific gene expression patterns. From these results, we conclude that mesonephric cell migration plays a critical role in the formation of testis cords and the differentiation of XY versus XX cell types.
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