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Hum Mol Genet. 2000 Jun 12;9(10):1553-60.

Sexually dimorphic expression of protease nexin-1 and vanin-1 in the developing mouse gonad prior to overt differentiation suggests a role in mammalian sexual development.

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MRC Mammalian Genetics Unit, Harwell, UK.


The mammalian sex-determining pathway is controlled by the presence or absence of SRY expression in the embryonic gonad. Expression of SRY in males is believed to initiate a pathway of gene expression resulting in testis development. In the absence of SRY, ovary development ensues. Several genes have now been placed in this pathway but our understanding of it is far from complete and several functional classes of protein appear to be absent. Sex-determining genes frequently exhibit sexually dimorphic patterns of expression in the developing gonad both before and after overt differentiation of the testis or ovary. In order to identify additional sex-determining or gonadal differentiation genes we have examined gene expression in the developing gonads of the mouse using cDNA microarrays constructed from a normalized urogenital ridge library. We screened for genes exhibiting sexually dimorphic patterns of expression in the gonad at 12.5 and 13.5 days post-coitum, after overt gonad differentiation, by comparing complex cDNA probes derived from male and female gonadal tissue at these stages on micro-arrays. Using in situ hybridization analysis we show here that two genes identified by this screen, protease nexin-1 (Pn-1) and vanin-1 (Vnn1), exhibit male-specific expression prior to overt gonadal differentiation and are detected in the somatic portion of the developing gonad, suggesting a possible direct link to the testis-determining pathway for both genes.

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