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Differentiation. 1998 Sep;63(5):273-84.

Patterns of keratins 8, 18 and 19 during gonadal differentiation in the mouse: sex- and time-dependent expression of keratin 19.

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Laboratoire de Physiologie de la Reproduction URA-CNRS 1449, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France.


The acidic keratins K18 and K19 have been shown to display a sex-specific expression during gonadal differentiation in the rat. To extend these findings, we have undertaken a study of the expression of genes encoding for K18 and K19 and their basic partner K8 in the mouse from 10.5 days of gestation until adulthood, using immunofluorescence, in situ hybridization, and reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). In the urogenital ridge at 10.5 days of gestation, K18, K19, and K8 are present, in both sexes, in coelomic epithelium in the area of the prospective gonad. At 11 days and 10 h of gestation, they are detected in differentiating gonadal blastema. In male gonads at 11 days and 16 h of gestation the first Sertoli cells differentiate. They are stained for anti-Müllerian hormone by immunofluorescence and appear as dispersed cells throughout the blastema. Progressively, they adhere to each other and form differentiating seminiferous cords. K19 disappears as Sertoli cells differentiate. K18 and K8 continue to be detected in Sertoli cells during fetal life and after birth until 14 days postpartum. In the adult testis, no keratin is observed. In differentiating ovaries, the three keratins are present in somatic cells of the ovigerous cords during fetal life and in primordial follicles differentiating from 1-2 days postpartum. In the course of follicular development, K19 is no longer detected as primordial follicles differentiate into growing follicles. K18 and K18 are present in all stages of follicular development. These results show both differences and similarities with the results previously obtained in the rat. In the mouse, in contrast to the rat, keratins are detected in adult ovaries, and K18 is found in undifferentiated gonads and in ovaries. K18 is, thus, not specific to the testis in the mouse, as it is in the rat. In both species, K19 ceases to be expressed in male gonads as Sertoli cells differentiate and form seminiferous cords. The present observations confirm that downregulation of K19 gene expression in the fetal testis is one of the earliest molecular events attesting the commitment of the undifferentiated gonad to the male differentiative pathway.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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