Colocalization of WT1 and cell proliferation reveals conserved mechanisms in temperature-dependent sex determination.
During vertebrate development the gonad has two possible fates, the testis or the ovary. The choice between these fates is made by a variety of sex-determining mechanisms, from the sex-determining gene on the Y chromosome (Sry) in mammals, to nongenetic temperature-dependent systems in many reptiles. Despite the differences in the mechanisms at the top of the sex-determining cascade, the resulting morphology and many genes involved in early testis and ovarian development are common to most vertebrates, leading to the hypothesis that the underlying processes of sex determination are conserved. In this study, we examined the early steps of gonad development in the red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta), a species that uses the temperature of egg incubation to determine sex. A dramatic increase in cell proliferation was observed in the male gonad during the earliest stages of sex determination. Using the localization of Wilms' Tumor suppressor 1 (WT1), we determined that this proliferation increase occurred in a population that contained pre-Sertoli cells. The proliferation of pre-Sertoli cells has been documented during sex determination in both mice and alligators, suggesting that proliferation of this cell type has an important role in vertebrate testis organogenesis and the determination of male fate.
Schmahl, J; Yao, HH; Pierucci-Alves, F; Capel, B
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