Profiles of mRNA expression of genes related to sex differentiation of the gonads in the chicken embryo

I. Yamamoto, A. Tsukada, Noboru Saito, K. Shimada

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Sex is determined genetically in birds. The homogametic sex is male (ZZ), whereas the heterogametic sex is female (ZW). According to the genetic sex, gonads develop into testes or ovary. In this study, we performed experiments to reveal mRNA expression patterns in the gonad between d 5.5 and 8.5 of incubation and examined a possible role of Dss-Ahc critical region on the X chromosome 1 (Dax1), Steroidogenic factor 1 (Sf1), P450aromatase (P450arom), Estrogen receptor α (ERα), doublesex and mab3 related transcription factor 1 (Dmrt1), Sry-related HMG box gene 9 (Sox9), Gata binding protein 4 (Gata4), and anti-müllerian hormone (Amh) in sex differentiation in chicken embryonic gonads using RNase protection assay. In embryonic chicken gonads, Dax1 mRNA was expressed in both sexes but was higher in females than in males at d 6.5 and 7.5 of incubation. The Sf1 mRNA was expressed in both sexes, but it was expressed more in males at d 5.5 than in females but more in females than in males at d 7.5 and 8.5 of incubation. The P450arom mRNA was expressed only in female gonads from d 5.5 of incubation. The ERα mRNA was expressed in both sexes, but it did not show a sex difference. On the other hand, the Dmrt1 mRNA was expressed in both sexes, but it showed a male-specific expression pattern. The male-specific expression pattern was observed in Sox9 mRNA, but it was not expressed in female gonads. The Gata4 mRNA was expressed in both sexes, and sex differences were not revealed throughout the observational period. Amh mRNA was expressed in both sexes, but it had male-specific mRNA expression pattern at d 6.5 to 8.5 of incubation. These results indicate that Dax1, Sf1, and P450arom have possible roles in ovary formation, whereas Dmrt1, Sox9, and Amh are related to testis formation in differentiating chicken gonads at d 5.5 to 8.5 of incubation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1462-1467
Number of pages6
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2003
Externally publishedYes



  • Chicken
  • Embryo
  • Gonad
  • mRNA expression
  • Sex differentiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology

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