FGF9 promotes survival of germ cells in the fetal testis.
In addition to its role in somatic cell development in the testis, our data have revealed a role for Fgf9 in XY germ cell survival. In Fgf9-null mice, germ cells in the XY gonad decline in numbers after 11.5 days post coitum (dpc), while germ cell numbers in XX gonads are unaffected. We present evidence that germ cells resident in the XY gonad become dependent on FGF9 signaling between 10.5 dpc and 11.5 dpc, and that FGF9 directly promotes XY gonocyte survival after 11.5 dpc, independently from Sertoli cell differentiation. Furthermore, XY Fgf9-null gonads undergo true male-to-female sex reversal as they initiate but fail to maintain the male pathway and subsequently express markers of ovarian differentiation (Fst and Bmp2). By 14.5 dpc, these gonads contain germ cells that enter meiosis synchronously with ovarian gonocytes. FGF9 is necessary for 11.5 dpc XY gonocyte survival and is the earliest reported factor with a sex-specific role in regulating germ cell survival.
DiNapoli, L; Batchvarov, J; Capel, B
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