Three-dimensional structure of the developing mouse genital ridge.
We are interested in understanding how the field of cells which forms the gonad arises, and how the testis-determining gene, Sry, controls morphogenesis of a testis within this field of cells. To appreciate changes in the three-dimensional structure of the mouse genital ridge at this time in development, whole-mount genital ridges taken from male and female embryos over the developmental period when the initiation of testis cord morphogenesis takes place, were stained with an antibody against laminin. Samples were visualized using confocal microscopy. Anti-laminin illuminates the elaborate array of mesonephric duct and tubules which occupy the cranial two-thirds of the mesonephros at the earliest timepoint. This complex structure gradually regresses as testis cords form in male gonads. No structural organisation is recognized by this antibody in the female gonadal region during this period. Confocal sections in the Z-plane reveal continuous cellular connections between 3-6 mesonephric tubules and the gonadal primordium. These cellular bridges are present in male and female gonads, so they do not depend on the expression of Sry. We consider the possibility that these bridges constitute the pathways of the founder cells of the gonadal primordium.
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