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Dev Biol. 2007 Jul 15;307(2):356-67. Epub 2007 May 3.

The regulation of Sox9 gene expression by the GATA4/FOG2 transcriptional complex in dominant XX sex reversal mouse models.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, NH, USA.


We have previously established an in vivo requirement for GATA4 and FOG2 transcription factors in sexual differentiation. Fog2 null mouse fetuses or fetuses homozygous for a targeted mutation in Gata4 (Gata4(ki)), which cripples the GATA4-FOG2 interaction, exhibit a profound and early block in testis differentiation in both sexes. Others have shown that XX mice with the Ods transgenic insertion or the Wt1-Sox9 YAC transgene overexpress the testis differentiation gene, Sox9. Thus, these XX animals undergo dominant sex reversal by developing into phenotypically normal, but sterile, males. Now we have determined that Fog2 haploinsufficiency prevents (suppresses) this dominant sex reversal and Fog2+/-Wt1-Sox9 or Ods XX animals develop normally--as fertile females. The suppression of sex reversal in Fog2 heterozygous females results from approximately 50% downregulation of the expression from the transgene-associated allele of Sox9. The GATA4/FOG2-dependent sex reversal observed in the transgenic XX gonads has to rely on gene targets other than the Y chromosome-linked Sry gene. Importantly, Fog2 null or Gata4(ki/ki) embryos (either XX or XY) fail to express detectable levels of Sox9 despite carrying the Ods mutation or Wt1-Sox9 transgene. Fog2 haploinsufficiency leads to a decreased amount of SOX9-positive cells in XY gonads. We conclude that FOG2 is a limiting factor in the formation of a functional GATA4/FOG2 transcription complex that is required for Sox9 expression during gonadogenesis.

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