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Dev Dyn. 2009 Aug;238(8):2073-80. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.22024.

Male-specific expression of Aldh1a1 in mouse and chicken fetal testes: implications for retinoid balance in gonad development.

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Division of Molecular Genetics and Development, Institute for Molecular Biosciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.


Balanced production and degradation of retinoids is important in regulating development of several organ systems in the vertebrate embryo. Among these, it is known that retinoic acid (RA), and the retinoid-catabolyzing enzyme CYP26B1 together regulate the sex-specific behavior of germ cells in developing mouse gonads. We report here that the gene encoding a cytosolic class-1 aldehyde dehydrogenase, ALDH1A1, a weak catalyst of RA production, is strongly expressed in a male-specific manner in somatic cells of the developing mouse testis, beginning shortly after Sry expression is first detectable. This expression pattern is conserved in the developing male gonad of the chicken and is dependent on the testis-specific transcription factor SOX9. Our data suggest that low levels of RA may be required for early developmental events in the testis, or that Aldh1a1 expression in the fetus may prefigure a later requirement for ALDH1A1 in regulating spermatogenesis postnatally.

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