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Sex Dev. 2007;1(5):286-92. doi: 10.1159/000108930.

A cellular study of human testis development.

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  • 1Human Genetics Program, Department of Pediatrics, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016, USA. harry.ostrer@med.nyu.edu


This study catalogs the cellular events underlying the formation of a human testis. These events were identified by immunocytochemistry using antibodies that served as markers for specific cell types, then contrasted with the events occurring in the developing mouse testis. The presence of germ cells in the embryonic gonadal ridge and of coelomic epithelial cells that give rise to Sertoli cells was observed at 7 weeks. This was followed by the appearance of Sertoli cells in testicular tubules and of Leydig cells at 9 weeks and by the appearance of vascular endothelial cells and peritubular myoid cells at 12 weeks. Overall the temporal sequence of events in humans was similar, albeit longer, than what occurs in mice. Notably, Leydig cell differentiation occurs earlier in the sequence of events and germ cell maturation occurs during fetal life. The candidate testis-determining genes, FGF9, GATA4, FOG2, EMX2, and CBX2 were expressed at 7 weeks suggesting a role in early gonadal development, such as that observed in mice. In addition, expression of FGF9 in germ cells following testis determination suggests a role in germ cell maturation.

2007 S. Karger AG, Basel

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