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Dev Biol. 2010 Oct 15;346(2):320-30. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2010.08.002. Epub 2010 Aug 11.

New testicular mechanisms involved in the prevention of fetal meiotic initiation in mice.

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aboratory of Differentiation and Radiobiology ofGonads, Unit of Gametogenesis and Genotoxicity, UMR-U566, INSERM, U566, F_92265 Fontenay-aux-roses, France.


In mammals, early fetal germ cells are unique in their ability to initiate the spermatogenesis or oogenesis programs dependent of their somatic environment. In mice, female germ cells enter into meiosis at 13.5 dpc whereas in the male, germ cells undergo mitotic arrest. Recent findings indicate that Cyp26b1, a RA-degrading enzyme, is a key factor preventing initiation of meiosis in the fetal testis. Here, we report evidence for additional testicular pathways involved in the prevention of fetal meiosis. Using a co-culture model in which an undifferentiated XX gonad is cultured with a fetal or neonatal testis, we demonstrated that the testis prevented the initiation of meiosis and induced male germ cell differentiation in the XX gonad. This testicular effect disappeared when male meiosis starts in the neonatal testis and was not directly due to Cyp26b1 expression. Moreover, neither RA nor ketoconazole, an inhibitor of Cyp26b1, completely prevented testicular inhibition of meiosis in co-cultured ovary. We found that secreted factor(s), with molecular weight greater than 10 kDa contained in conditioned media from cultured fetal testes, inhibited meiosis in the XX gonad. Lastly, although both Sertoli and interstitial cells inhibited meiosis in XX germ cells, only interstitial cells induced mitotic arrest in germ cell. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that male germ cell determination is supported by additional non-retinoid secreted factors inhibiting both meiosis and mitosis and produced by the testicular somatic cells during fetal and neonatal life.

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