Mechanisms of gonadal morphogenesis are not conserved between chick and mouse

Ryohei Sekido*, Robin Lovell-Badge

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To understand mechanisms of sex determination, it is important to know the lineage relationships of cells comprising the gonads. For example, in mice, the Y-linked gene Sry triggers differentiation of Sertoli cells from a cell population originating in the coelomic epithelium overlying the nascent gonad that also gives rise to uncharacterised interstitial cells. In contrast, little is known about origins of somatic cell types in the chick testis, where there is no Sry gene and sex determination depends on a ZZ male/ZW female mechanism. To investigate this, we performed fate mapping experiments in ovo, labelling at indifferent stages the coelomic epithelium by electroporation with a lacZ reporter gene and the underlying nephrogenous (or mesonephric) mesenchyme with chemical dyes. After sex differentiation, LacZ-positive cells were exclusively outside testis cords and were 3βHSD-negative, indicating that the coelomic epithelium contributes only to non-steroidogenic interstitial cells. However, we detected dye-labelled cells both inside and outside the cords. The former were AMH-positive while some of the latter were 3βHSD-positive, showing that nephrogenous mesenchyme contributes to both Sertoli cells and steroidogenic cells. This is the first demonstration via lineage analysis that steroidogenic cells originate from nephrogenous mesenchyme, but the revelation that Sertoli cells have different origins between chick and mouse suggests that, during evolution, mechanisms of gonad morphogenesis may diverge alongside those of sex determination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-142
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2007


  • cell migration
  • Leydig cells
  • lineage labelling
  • Sertoli cells
  • sex determination
  • testis


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