SOX9 is up-regulated by the transient expression of SRY specifically in Sertoli cell precursors

Ryohei Sekido, Isabelle Bar, Véronica Narváez, Graeme Penny, Robin Lovell-Badge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Y chromosome gene Sry encodes a transcription factor required to initiate testis development. The related autosomal gene Sox9 is up-regulated shortly after the onset of Sry transcription and is thought essential for the differentiation of Sertoli cells. The lineage that gives rise to Sertoli cells has its origins within the coelomic epithelium (CE) of the genital ridge, but from cells also able to give rise to an interstitial cell type. It was not known at what point SRY acts in the derivation of this lineage or how the two genes interact. To investigate the identity of the cells expressing Sry, we designed two transgenes driven by the Sry promoter: one gives expression of a stable reporter, human placental alkaline phosphatase (hPLAP), while the second gives expression of a functional Myc-epitope tagged SRY protein (SRYMYC). Taking advantage of lasting hPLAP activity after transcription of the reporter gene has ceased, we could show that SryhPLAP was expressed exclusively in all cells fated to become Sertoli cells. SRYMYC- single-positive cells were first observed in the gonad and not in the CE. Subsequently, they became SRYMYC/SOX9-double-positive, but only for a few hours before turning into SOX9-single-positive cells. After the coelomic epithelial cells migrate into the gonad, there is first a decision to become interstitial or supporting cells, and then the transient expression of SRY in the latter determines their fate as Sertoli cells by up-regulating Sox9.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-279
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
Early online date17 Aug 2004
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2004


  • Sertoli cell
  • Sox9
  • Sry
  • testis development
  • transgenic mice


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