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Dev Biol. 2011 Jun 1;354(1):111-22. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2011.03.029. Epub 2011 Apr 3.

XY Sox9 embryonic loss-of-function mouse mutants show complete sex reversal and produce partially fertile XY oocytes.

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INSERM U636, Nice, France.


Gonadal differentiation is the first step of mammalian sex determination. The expression of the Y chromosomal testis determining factor Sry leads to up-regulation of the transcription factor Sox9 which promotes testis differentiation. Previous studies showed that Sox9 deficiency induces expression of ovarian markers in XY mutant fetal gonads before they die. To better understand the genome-wide transcriptional profile underlying this process we compared samples from XY Sf1:Cre(Tg/+); Sox9(flox/flox) mutant gonads in which Sox9 is ablated in Sertoli-precursor cells during early stages of gonad development to XX Sox9(flox/flox) ovaries and XY Sox9(flox/flox) testes at E13.5. We found a complex mRNA signature that indicates wide-spread transcriptional de-regulation and revealed for XY mutants at E13.5 an intermediate transcript profile between male and female gonads. However, XY Sf1:Cre(Tg/+); Sox9(flox/flox) mutant gonads develop as ovaries containing XY developing follicles at P0 but less frequently so than in XX control ovaries. Furthermore, we studied the extent to which developing XY mutant ovaries are able to mediate adult fertility and observed that XY oocytes from XY mutant ovaries are competent for fertilization; however, two thirds of them fail to develop beyond two-cell stage embryos. Taken together, we found that XY Sf1:Cre(Tg/+); Sox9(flox/flox) females are capable of producing viable offspring albeit at a reduced level.

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