Temperature, genes, and sex: a comparative view of sex determination in Trachemys scripta and Mus musculus.
Sex determination, the step at which differentiation of males and females is initiated in the embryo, is of central importance to the propagation of species. There is a remarkable diversity of mechanisms by which sex determination is accomplished. In general these mechanisms fall into two categories: Genetic Sex Determination (GSD), which depends on genetic differences between the sexes, and Environmental Sex Determination (ESD), which depends on extrinsic cues. In this review we will consider these two means of determining sex with particular emphasis on two species: a species that depends on GSD, Mus musculus, and a species that depends on ESD, Trachemys scripta. Because the structural organization of the adult testis and ovary is very similar across vertebrates, most biologists had expected that the pathways downstream of the sex-determining switch would be conserved. However, emerging data indicate that not only are the initial sex determining mechanisms different, but the downstream pathways and morphogenetic events leading to the development of a testis or ovary also are different.
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