Sex of birds is genetically determined by the inheritance of sex chromosomes (ZZ for male and ZW for female), and the Z-linked gene named doublesex and mab-3 related transcription factor 1 (DMRT1) is a candidate sex-determining gene in avian species. However, the mechanisms underlying sex determination in birds are not yet understood, and the expression patterns of the DMRT1 protein in urogenital tissues have not been identified. In the current study, we used immunohistochemistry to investigate the detailed expression patterns of the DMRT1 protein in the urogenital systems (including Müllerian ducts) in male and female chicken embryos throughout embryonic development. Gonadal somatic cells in the male indifferent gonads showed stronger expressions of DMRT1 compared with those in the female indifferent gonads well before the presumptive period of the sex determination, and Sertoli cells forming testicular cords expressed DMRT1 in the testes after sex determination. Germ cells expressed DMRT1 equally in males and females after sex determination. The expression was continuous in males, but in females it gradually disappeared from the germ cells in the central part of the cortex of the left ovary toward both edges. The DMRT1 was also detected in the tubal ridge, which is a precursor of the Müllerian duct, and at the mesenchyme and outermost coelomic epithelium of the Müllerian duct in both sexes. Strong expression was observed in the males, but it was restricted to coelomic epithelium after the regression of the duct started. Thus, we observed the detailed spatiotemporal expression patterns of DMRT1 in the developing chicken urogenital systems throughout embryonic development, suggesting its various roles in the development of urogenital tissues in the chicken embryo.
- Doublesex and mab-3 related transcription factor 1
- Embryonic development
- Sex determination and differentiation
- Urogenital tissue