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Biol Reprod. 2008 Jun;78(6):994-1001. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod.107.066605. Epub 2008 Mar 5.

Functional redundancy of TGF-beta family type I receptors and receptor-Smads in mediating anti-Mullerian hormone-induced Mullerian duct regression in the mouse.

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Program in Genes and Development, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston, The University of Texas, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Amniotes, regardless of genetic sex, develop two sets of genital ducts: the Wolffian and Müllerian ducts. For normal sexual development to occur, one duct must differentiate into its corresponding organs, and the other must regress. In mammals, the Wolffian duct differentiates into the male reproductive tract, mainly the vasa deferentia, epididymides, and seminal vesicles, whereas the Müllerian duct develops into the four components of the female reproductive tract, the oviducts, uterus, cervix, and upper third of the vagina. In males, the fetal Leydig cells produce testosterone, which stimulates the differentiation of the Wolffian duct, whereas the Sertoli cells of the fetal testes express anti-Müllerian hormone, which activates the regression of the Müllerian duct. Anti-Müllerian hormone is a member of the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) family of secreted signaling molecules and has been shown to signal through the BMP pathway. It binds to its type II receptor, anti-Müllerian hormone receptor 2 (AMHR2), in the Müllerian duct mesenchyme and through an unknown mechanism(s); the mesenchyme induces the regression of the Müllerian duct mesoepithelium. Using tissue-specific gene inactivation with an Amhr2-Cre allele, we have determined that two TGF-beta type I receptors (Acvr1 and Bmpr1a) and all three BMP receptor-Smads (Smad1, Smad5, and Smad8) function redundantly in transducing the anti-Müllerian hormone signal required for Müllerian duct regression. Loss of these genes in the Müllerian duct mesenchyme results in male infertility due to retention of Müllerian duct derivatives in an otherwise virilized male.

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