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Biol Reprod. 1998 Oct;59(4):725-32.

Developmental expression of the androgen receptor during virilization of the urogenital system of a marsupial.

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Department of Zoology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia.


In the marsupial tammar wallaby, virilization begins approximately 3 wk after the onset of testosterone synthesis. In the eutherian mammal, in contrast, the onset of virilization of the male urogenital tract occurs shortly after the onset of androgen synthesis. Androgen action requires the presence of the androgen receptor to mediate a response in target tissues. We therefore investigated the developmental expression of the androgen receptor (AR) in both sexes of the tammar wallaby. AR gene transcript was detected in fetal gonad and brain as early as Day 19 of the 26.5-day gestation, 7 days earlier than the first rise in testicular testosterone (Days 0-5 postpartum [p.p.]). Immunoreactive AR was identified in the male urogenital sinus (UGS) 2 days before birth and in the female UGS and mammary glands by the day of birth. AR was present in the UGS, vagina, and prostate until Day 152 p.p., the oldest age examined. AR was identified in the gubernaculum testis at Day 2 p.p. and became more abundant by Day 32. In the phallus of both sexes, AR was identified by Day 4 p.p. and until Day 157, the oldest age examined. AR was not detected in the scrotum at any age from the day of birth to Day 157. Maturation of the phallus, wolffian duct, and epididymis was marked by appearance of epithelial immunostaining. AR was localized in the epithelium of the UGS in females by Day 50 p.p. but was not found in the epithelium of the male UGS up to Day 152 p.p., the oldest examined. AR were found in the mesenchyme of the UGS of male and female tammars 3-4 wk before virilization is first evident in the male at Day 25 p.p. We conclude that the presence of AR is not the initiating signal for virilization of the UGS in this marsupial male.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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