Cellular mechanisms of sex determination in the red-eared slider turtle, Trachemys scripta.
In all vertebrates sex determination is the step at which development of a testis or ovary is initiated in the bipotential gonad. Although Mus musculus and the red-eared slider turtle, Trachemys scripta, use different mechanisms to initiate organogenesis of the testis (the Y-linked gene, Sry, in the mouse vs. the incubation temperature of the egg in the turtle), the structure of the adult testis is strikingly similar. We have identified several cellular mechanisms involved in testis organogenesis in mouse. Here we investigated whether these cellular mechanisms are conserved in T. scripta downstream of the temperature-dependent switch. Cell tracing experiments indicated that the coelomic epithelium in T. scripta contributes precursors for Sertoli cells and interstitial cells as in mouse. However, we detect no male-specific mesonephric cell migration, a process required for the de novo testis cord-forming process in mouse. In contrast to mouse gonads, where no cord structure is discernible until after the divergence of testis development, we find that primitive sex cords continuous with the coelomic epithelium exist in all T. scripta gonads from the earliest bipotential stages examined. We conclude that typical testis architecture results from the maintenance and elaboration of primitive sex cords in T. scripta rather than the assembly of de novo structures as in mouse.
Yao, HH-C; DiNapoli, L; Capel, B
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