Differential expression of SOX9 in gonads of the sea turtle Lepidochelys olivacea at male- or female-promoting temperatures

Norma Moreno-Mendoza, Vincent R. Harley, Horacio Merchant-Larios

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


In mouse and chick embryos, the SOX9 gene is down-regulated in genetic females whereas in genetic males it remains in the Sertoli cells. We studied the distribution of SOX9 protein in developing genital ridges of embryos of the sea turtle Lepidochelys olivacea incubated at male- or female-promoting temperatures, using the antibody for detection. At stages 22-24, cells in medullary cords show SOX9 positive nuclei, while coelomic epithelial cells appear negative. At stage 25 however, most medullary cells are SOX9 negative and at the female-promoting temperature, and from stage 26 onwards, SOX9 protein is not detected. At the male-promoting temperature, medullary cords remain SOX9-positive at all stages. These results suggest that SOX9 is up-regulated in Sertoli cells irrespective of primary sex-determining switch. Sex is irreversibly determined at stage 24 or 26 at the male- or female-promoting temperature, respectively (Merchant-Larios et al.,'97). The present results suggest that there is a correlation between SOX9 expression and sex determination in the olive ridley. At the male-promoting temperature, Sertoli cells expressing SOX9 become committed at stage 24 and male sex is determined, whereas at the female-promoting temperature, SOX9 is down-regulated at stage 26 and female sex is determined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-710
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Experimental Zoology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 1999
Externally publishedYes

Cite this