Sex-specific expression of SOX9 during gonadogenesis in the amphibian Xenopus tropicalis

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Abstract

To investigate the role of SOX9 gene in amphibian gonadogenesis, we analyzed its expression during male and female gonadogenesis in Xenopus tropicalis. The results showed that in both sexes SOX9 mRNA and protein were first detectable after metamorphosis when the gonads were well differentiated and remained present until the adult stage. In the testis, SOX9 expression was restricted to the nucleus of Sertoli-like cells, similarly to what has been observed in other vertebrates suggesting a conserved role in vertebrate testicular differentiation. In the ovary, in sharp contrast with what has been observed in all vertebrates examined so far, the SOX9 protein was localized in the cytoplasm of previtellogenic oocytes before being translocated into the nucleus of vitellogenic oocytes suggesting an unexpected role during oogenesis. These results suggest that the SOX9 gene may not be a sex-determining gene in X. tropicalis and may play different functions in testicular and ovarian differentiation. Developmental Dynamics 237:2996–3005, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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