The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 42: 1143 - 1151 (1998)

Vol 42, Issue 8

Wilms' tumor suppressor gene (WT1) as a target gene of SRY function in a mouse ES cell line transfected with SRY

Published: 1 November 1998

Y Toyooka, S S Tanaka, O Hirota, S Tanaka, N Takagi, K Yamanouchi, H Tojo and C Tachi

Developmental Biology Group, Mitsubishi Kasei Institute of Life Sciences, Tokyo, Japan.


With the aim of identifying the gene(s) located downstream from SRY, we transfected an ES cell line with XX karyotype, TMA-18, with a Sry DNA construct and established cell lines, TS18-1 and TS18-2, where the transfected Sry was expressed in the functional linear mRNA form. Among the five potential SRY-target genes examined, i.e., MIS, SF1, P450arom, Sox9 and WT1, only the expression of WT1 was induced de novo by the unscheduled expression of Sry in the transfected cell lines. No clear indication of Sry-induced enhancement of Sox9 expression was obtained in the present series of experiments. Function of a yet unidentified gene(s) located on the Y chromosome might be needed for the up-regulation of Sox 9 expression which takes place during the development of male gonads. Quantitative RT-PCR analysis of the patterns of WT1 expression in developing fetal gonads revealed that although both male and female fetal gonads express WT1, male gonads invariably expressed WT1 mRNA at higher levels than female ones after the Sry expression. Immunohistochemical analysis of the male fetal gonads between 10.5 and 13.5 dpc demonstrated the presence of strong WT1 immunoreactivity in Sertoli cells of the primordial testes. Suggestions were made in the past indicating that both SF1 and WT1 proteins might be active in a common pathway upstream from Sry. Our results showed that WT1 is located downstream, rather than upstream from Sry and behaves independently from SF1. Analysis using an appropriate in vitro system will be essential to understand the molecular mechanisms of SRY action within cells.

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