Sry and the testis: molecular pathways of organogenesis.
The gene Sry acts as a switch, initiating pathways leading to the differentiation of a testis rather than an ovary from the indifferent gonad (genital ridge) in mammals. The early events following Sry expression include rapid changes in the topographical organization of cells in the XY gonad. Sry must therefore initiate signaling pathways that direct male-specific patterns of proliferation, migration, cell-cell organization, and vascularization. We have identified an increase in male-specific proliferation by 12.0 days post coitum, while proliferation in the female gonad declines. We have also observed male-specific cell migration from the mesonephros into the gonad in a composite organ culture system in which gonads from wild-type mice (CD1) and mesonephroi from a transgenic strain expressing beta-galactosidase in all its cells (ROSA26) were grafted together in vitro at the indifferent stage of gonadogenesis. Migration depends on an active signal that requires the presence of a Y chromosome in the gonadal portion of the graft. The signals that trigger migration operate over considerable distances, suggesting either a long-range diffusible factor or the involvement of a rapid and efficient relay mechanism. Identification of the somatic cells contributed from the mesonephros with cell-specific markers indicated that some of the migrating cells were endothelial, revealing differences in processes of vascularization between male and female gonads. A second distinct population of migrating cells lay in close apposition to endothelial cells, and a third population occupied positions circumscribing areas of condensing Sertoli cells.
Brennan, J; Karl, J; Martineau, J; Nordqvist, K; Schmahl, J; Tilmann, C; Ung, K; Capel, B
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