Somatic FGFR2 is Required for Germ Cell Maintenance in the Mouse Ovary

Anthony D. Bird, Emily R. Frost, Stefan Bagheri-Fam, Brittany M. Croft, Janelle M. Ryan, Liang Zhao, Peter Koopman, Vincent R. Harley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


During sex determination in the mouse, fibroblast growth factor 9 signals through the fibroblast growth factor receptor 2c isoform (FGFR2c) to trigger Sertoli cell and testis development from 11.5 days post coitum (dpc). In the XX gonad, the FOXL2 and WNT4/RSPO1 pathways drive granulosa cell and ovarian development. The function of FGFR2 in the developing ovary, and whether FGFR2 is required in the testis after sex determination, is not clear. In fetal mouse gonads from 12.5 dpc, FGFR2 shows sexually dimorphic expression. In XX gonads, FGFR2c is coexpressed with FOXL2 in pregranulosa cells, whereas XY gonads show FGFR2b expression in germ cells. Deletion of Fgfr2c in XX mice led to a marked decrease/absence of germ cells by 13.5 dpc in the ovary. This indicates that FGFR2c in the somatic pregranulosa cells is required for the maintenance of germ cells. Surprisingly, on the Fgfr2c-/- background, the germ cell phenotype could be rescued by ablation of Foxl2, suggesting a novel mechanism whereby FGFR2 and FOXL2 act antagonistically during germ cell development. Consistent with low/absent FGFR2 expression in the Sertoli cells of 12.5 and 13.5 dpc XY gonads, XY AMH:Cre; Fgfr2flox/flox mice showed normal testis morphology and structures during fetal development and in adulthood. Thus, FGFR2 is not essential for maintaining Sertoli cell fate after sex determination. Combined, these data show that FGFR2 is not necessary for Sertoli cell function after sex determination but does play an important role in the ovary.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberbqad031
Number of pages9
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


  • DSD
  • FGF signalling
  • FGFR2c
  • infertility
  • ovary
  • testis

Cite this