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Gene Expr Patterns. 2008 Sep;8(7-8):529-37.

A microarray analysis of the XX Wnt4 mutant gonad targeted at the identification of genes involved in testis vascular differentiation.

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The Department of Cell Biology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


One of the earliest morphological changes during testicular differentiation is the establishment of an XY specific vasculature. The testis vascular system is derived from mesonephric endothelial cells that migrate into the gonad. In the XX gonad, mesonephric cell migration and testis vascular development are inhibited by WNT4 signaling. In Wnt4 mutant XX gonads, endothelial cells migrate from the mesonephros and form a male-like coelomic vessel. Interestingly, this process occurs in the absence of other obvious features of testis differentiation, suggesting that Wnt4 specifically inhibits XY vascular development. Consequently, the XX Wnt4 mutant mice presented an opportunity to focus a gene expression screen on the processes of mesonephric cell migration and testicular vascular development. We compared differences in gene expression between XY Wnt4+/+ and XX Wnt4+/+ gonads and between XX Wnt4-/- and XX Wnt4+/+ gonads to identify sets of genes similarly upregulated in wildtype XY gonads and XX mutant gonads or upregulated in XX gonads as compared to XY gonads and XX mutant gonads. We show that several genes identified in the first set are expressed in vascular domains, and have predicted functions related to cell migration or vascular development. However, the expression patterns and known functions of other genes are not consistent with roles in these processes. This screen has identified candidates for regulation of sex specific vascular development, and has implicated a role for WNT4 signaling in the development of Sertoli and germ cell lineages not immediately obvious from previous phenotypic analyses.

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