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Understanding sex determination in the mouse: genetics, epigenetics and the story of mutual antagonisms

Authors
  • GREENFIELD, ANDY1
  • 1 Medical Research Council, Mammalian Genetics Unit, Harwell, Oxfordshire OX11 0RD, United Kingdom , Harwell (United Kingdom)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Genetics
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
Oct 31, 2015
Volume
94
Issue
4
Pages
585–590
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s12041-015-0565-2
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

Recent years have seen a rapid growth in mouse genetics resources that support research into fundamental mechanisms in organogenesis, including those controlling mammalian sex determinations. Numerous mouse mutants have shed light on molecular pathways of cell fate specification during gonadogenesis and the ‘decision’ as to whether testis or ovary development is achieved. These studies indicate substantial genetic complexity, characterized by redundancy, feedback loops, mutual antagonism between testis-determining and ovary-determining gene regulatory networks and a degree of plasticity in the fully differentiated state of the adult gonad that was not appreciated until conditional loss-of-function studies were performed. One challenge now is to understand how controlled epigenomic changes effect the now familiar sexually dimorphic transcriptomic profiles of the male and female gonads, firstly during primary sex determination, but also in the adult gonad, thereby regulating cellular behaviour during morphogenesis and maintaining the differentiated state.

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