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Mech Dev. 1999 Sep;87(1-2):175-80.

Expression of steroidogenic factor 1 and Wilms' tumour 1 during early human gonadal development and sex determination.

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School of Biochemistry and Genetics, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Claremont Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.


The transcription factors SF-1 and WT1 play pivotal roles in mammalian gonadal development and sexual differentiation. In human embryos, both SF-1 and WT1 are expressed when the indifferent gonadal ridge first forms at 32 days post-ovulation. As the sex cords develop - providing morphological evidence of testis differentiation - SF-1 localises predominantly to developing Sertoli cells in the sex cords, whereas WT1 retains a broader pattern of expression. Later, SF-1 localises predominantly to steroidogenic Leydig cells, and WT1 localises to the sex cords. In the ovary, SF-1 and WT1 transcripts persist in the gonadal ridge from the earliest developmental stages throughout the critical period of sex determination. These studies, which delineate for the first time the sequential expression profiles of SF-1 and WT1 during human gonadal development, provide a framework for understanding human sex reversal phenotypes associated with their mutations.

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