Membrane β-catenin and adherens junctions in early gonadal patterning

Authors

  • Alice Fleming,

    1. Department of Human Genetics, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
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  • Negar Ghahramani,

    1. Department of Human Genetics, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
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  • Maggie Xiaoming Zhu,

    1. Department of Human Genetics, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
    Current affiliation:
    1. M.X. Zhu's present address is Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Department of Medicine, University of California San Diego, CA
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  • Emmanuèle C. Délot,

    1. Department of Human Genetics, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
    2. Department of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
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  • Eric Vilain

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Human Genetics, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
    2. Department of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
    3. Department of Urology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
    • David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Gonda Center, Room 5506, 695 Charles Young Drive South, Los Angeles, CA, 90095-7088
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Abstract

Background: Mechanisms involved in early patterning of the mammalian gonad as it develops from a bipotential state into a testis or an ovary are as yet not well understood. Sex-specific vascularization is essential in this process, but more specific mechanisms required to, for example, establish interstitial vs. cord compartments in the testis or ovigerous cords in the ovary have not been reported. Adherens junctions (AJs) are known for their roles in morphogenesis; we, therefore, examined expression of AJ components including β-catenin, p120 catenin, and cadherins for possible involvement in sex-specific patterning of the gonad. Results: We show that, at the time of early gonadal sex differentiation, membrane-associated β-catenin and p120 catenin colocalize with cell-specific cadherins in both sex-nonspecific and sex-specific patterns. These expression patterns are consistent with an influence of AJs in overall patterning of the testis vs. ovary through known AJ mechanisms of cell–cell adhesion, cell sorting, and boundary formation. Conclusions: Together these complex and dynamic patterns of AJ component expression precisely mirror patterning of tissues during gonadogenesis and raise the possibility that AJs are essential effectors of patterning within the developing testis and ovary. Developmental Dynamics 241:1782–1798, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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