Balancing the bipotential gonad between alternative organ fates: a new perspective on an old problem.
The embryonic gonads give rise to one of two morphologically and functionally different organs, a testis or an ovary. Sex determination is the embryonic process that determines the developmental fate of the gonad. In mammals, sex determination is regulated by a DNA binding protein encoded on the Y chromosome, Sry, and it's downstream mediator, Sox9, which trigger testis determination in the bipotential gonad. However, evidence suggests that the extracellular signals. Fgf9 and Wnt4, are also required to establish divergent organogenesis of the gonad. In this review, we discuss how these extracellular signals interface with cell-autonomous factors to determine the fate of the mammalian gonad, and we derive a model that could provide a molecular explanation for testis determination in vertebrates where Sry is absent.
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