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Expression of Sry, the mouse sex determining gene.

Hacker A., Capel B., Goodfellow P., Lovell-Badge R.

In the mouse, Sry is expressed by germ cells in the adult testis and by somatic cells in the genital ridge. Transcripts in the former exist as circular RNA molecules of 1.23 kb, which are unlikely to be efficiently translated. We have used RNase protection to map the extent of the less abundant Sry transcript in the developing gonad. We demonstrate that it is a linear mRNA derived from a single exon. This begins in the unique region 5' of the protein coding region and extends several kilobases into the 3' arm of the large inverted repeat which bounds the Sry genomic locus. Knowledge of this transcript, which is very different from that of the human SRY gene, allows us to predict its protein product and reveals several features which may be involved in translational control. Our data is also consistent with there being two promoters for the Sry gene, a proximal one that gives functional transcripts in the genital ridge and a distal promoter used in germ cells in the adult testis. As RNase protection is a quantitative technique, a detailed timecourse of Sry expression was carried out using accurately staged samples. Sry transcripts are first detectable just after 10.5 days post coitum, they reach a peak at 11.5 days and then decline sharply so that none are detected 24 hours later. This was compared with anti-Müllerian hormone gene expression, an early marker of Sertoli cells and the first known downstream gene of Sry. Amh expression begins 20 hours after the onset of Sry expression at a time when Sry transcripts are at their peak. While this result does not prove a direct interaction between the two genes, it defines the critical period during which Sry must act to initiate Sertoli cell differentiation.

Development 121:1603-1614(1995) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]