Gene expression in the efferent ducts, epididymis, and vas deferens during embryonic development of the mouse



The tissues of the male reproductive tract are characterized by distinct morphologies, from highly coiled to un-coiled. Global gene expression profiles of efferent ducts, epididymis, and vas deferens were generated from embryonic day 14.5 to postnatal day 1 as tissue-specific morphologies emerge. Expression of homeobox genes, potential mediators of tissue-specific morphological development, was assessed. Twenty homeobox genes were identified as either tissue-enriched, developmentally regulated, or both. Additionally, ontology analysis demonstrated cell adhesion to be highly regulated along the length of the reproductive tract. Regulators of cell adhesion with variable expression between the three tissues were identified including Alcam, various cadherins, and multiple integrins. Immunofluorescence localization of the cell adhesion regulators POSTN and CDH2 demonstrated cell adhesion in the epithelium and mesenchyme of the epididymis may change throughout development. These results suggest cell adhesion may be modulated in a tissue-specific manner, playing an important role in establishing each tissue's final morphology. Developmental Dynamics 239:2479–2491, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.