Comparative analysis demonstrates cell type-specific conservation of SOX9 targets between mouse and chicken.
ABSTRACT: SRY (sex-determining region Y)-box 9 (SOX9) is a transcription factor regulating both chondrogenesis and sex determination. Among vertebrates, SOX9's functions in chondrogenesis are well conserved, while they vary in sex determination. To investigate the conservation of SOX9's regulatory functions in chondrogenesis and gonad development among species, we performed chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq) using developing limb buds and male gonads from embryos of two vertebrates, mouse and chicken. In both mouse and chicken, SOX9 bound to intronic and distal regions of genes more frequently in limb buds than in male gonads, while SOX9 bound to the proximal upstream regions of genes more frequently in male gonads than in limb buds. In both species, SOX palindromic repeats were identified more frequently in SOX9 binding regions in limb bud genes compared with those in male gonad genes. The conservation of SOX9 binding regions was significantly higher in limb bud genes. In addition, we combined RNA expression analysis (RNA sequencing) with the ChIP-seq results at the same stage in developing chondrocytes and Sertoli cells and determined SOX9 target genes in these cells of the two species and disclosed that SOX9 targets showed high similarity of targets in chondrocytes, but not in Sertoli cells.
Project description:Organ culture systems are useful for elucidating the process of testicular differentiation from mammalian undifferentiated genetically male gonads, as they permit various experiments, including experiments involving the control of gene expression. However, without addition of testicular differentiation-related factors, it is difficult to induce the formation of testis cord from immature gonads by a time point earlier 12 tail somites (ts) that corresponding to 11.0 days post coitum (dpc). In this study, we attempted to establish an organ culture system that induces testis formation from immature gonads (around 8 ts: 10.5 dpc) just before Sry (sex-determining region of the Y chromosome) expression. A paired gonad-mesonephros complex of around 8 ts was placed in the groove of an agarose gel block and put the semi-cylindrical piece of agarose gel to maintain the gonad morphology. The gonads were cultured in the gas phase for 96 hr. As a result, testis cord-like structures appeared in many genetically male gonads. Cells expressing the Sertoli cell markers Sox9 (SRY-box 9) and Amh (anti-Müllerian hormone) were observed, while granulosa cell marker Foxl2 (forkhead box L2) was not detected. In addition, Sox9- and Amh-expressing cells were observed throughout the entire gonad in many individuals. Amh mRNA expression was also upregulated. Surprisingly, formation of a partial testicular structure was observed from more immature gonads (6 ts). These results show that our gonadal organ culture system is useful for elucidating the regulation mechanism of Sry expression in undifferentiated bipotential gonads.
Project description:The transcription factors SRY and SOX9 and RSPO1/WNT4/?-Catenin signaling act as antagonistic pathways to drive testis and ovary development respectively, from a common gonadal primordium in mouse embryos. In this work, we took advantage of a double knockout mouse model to study gonadal development when Sox9 and Wnt4 are both mutated. We show that the XX gonad mutant for Wnt4 or for both Wnt4 and Sox9 develop as ovotestes, demonstrating that ectopic SOX9 function is not required for the partial female-to-male sex reversal caused by a Wnt4 mutation. Sox9 deletion in XY gonads leads to ovarian development accompanied by ectopic WNT/?-catenin signaling. In XY Sox9 mutant gonads, SRY-positive supporting precursors adopt a female-like identity and develop as pre-granulosa-like cells. This phenotype cannot be fully prevented by the deletion of Wnt4 or Rspo1, indicating that SOX9 is required for the early determination of the male supporting cell identity independently of repressing RSPO1/WNT4/?-Catenin signaling. However, in XY Sox9 Wnt4 double mutant gonads, pre-granulosa cells are not maintained, as they prematurely differentiate as mature granulosa cells and then trans-differentiate into Sertoli-like cells. Together, our results reveal the dynamics of the specific and independent actions of SOX9 and WNT4 during gonadal differentiation: SOX9 is essential in the testis for early specification of male-supporting cells whereas WNT4 functions in the ovary to maintain female-supporting cell identity and inhibit male-specific vascular and steroidogenic cell differentiation.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The increasing incidence of reproductive disorders in humans has been attributed to in utero exposure to estrogenic endocrine disruptors. In particular, exposure of the developing testis to exogenous estrogen can negatively impact male reproductive health. To determine how estrogens impact human gonad function, we treated the human testis-derived cell line NT2/D1 with estrogen and examined its impact on SOX9 and the expression of key markers of granulosa (ovarian) and Sertoli (testicular) cell development. RESULTS:Estrogen successfully activated its cognate receptor (estrogen receptor alpha; ESR1) in NT2/D1 cells. We observed a significant increase in cytoplasmic SOX9 following estrogen treatment. After 48?h of estrogen exposure, mRNA levels of the key Sertoli cell genes SOX9, SRY, AMH, FGF9 and PTGDS were significantly reduced. This was followed by a significant increase in mRNA levels for the key granulosa cell genes FOXL2 and WNT4 after 96?h of estrogen exposure. CONCLUSIONS:These results are consistent with estrogen's effects on marsupial gonads and show that estrogen has a highly conserved impact on gonadal cell fate decisions that has existed in mammals for over 160 million years. This effect of estrogen presents as a potential mechanism contributing to the significant decrease in male fertility and reproductive health reported over recent decades. Given our widespread exposure to estrogenic endocrine disruptors, their effects on SOX9 and Sertoli cell determination could have considerable impact on the adult testis.
Project description:In mammalian embryonic gonads, SOX9 is required for the determination of Sertoli cells that orchestrate testis morphogenesis. To identify genetic networks directly regulated by SOX9, we combined analysis of SOX9-bound chromatin regions from murine and bovine foetal testes with sequencing of RNA samples from mouse testes lacking Sox9. We found that SOX9 controls a conserved genetic programme that involves most of the sex-determining genes. In foetal testes, SOX9 modulates both transcription and directly or indirectly sex-specific differential splicing of its target genes through binding to genomic regions with sequence motifs that are conserved among mammals and that we called 'Sertoli Cell Signature' (SCS). The SCS is characterized by a precise organization of binding motifs for the Sertoli cell reprogramming factors SOX9, GATA4 and DMRT1. As SOX9 biological role in mammalian gonads is to determine Sertoli cells, we correlated this genomic signature with the presence of SOX9 on chromatin in foetal testes, therefore equating this signature to a genomic bar code of the fate of foetal Sertoli cells. Starting from the hypothesis that nuclear factors that bind to genomic regions with SCS could functionally interact with SOX9, we identified TRIM28 as a new SOX9 partner in foetal testes.
Project description:Activation by the Y-encoded testis determining factor SRY and maintenance of expression of the Sox9 gene encoding the central transcription factor of Sertoli cell differentiation are key events in the mammalian sexual differentiation program. In the mouse XY gonad, SOX9 upregulates Fgf9, which initiates a Sox9/Fgf9 feedforward loop, and Sox9 expression is stimulated by the prostaglandin D2 (PGD2) producing lipocalin prostaglandin D synthase (L-PGDS, or PTDGS) enzyme, which accelerates commitment to the male pathway. In an attempt to decipher the genetic relationships between Sox9 and the L-Pgds/PGD2 pathway during mouse testicular organogenesis, we found that ablation of Sox9 at the onset or during the time window of expression in embryonic Sertoli cells abolished L-Pgds transcription. By contrast, L-Pgds(-/-) XY embryonic gonads displayed a reduced level of Sox9 transcript and aberrant SOX9 protein subcellular localization. In this study, we demonstrated genetically that the L-Pgds/PGD2 pathway acts as a second amplification loop of Sox9 expression. Moreover, examination of Fgf9(-/-) and L-Pgds(-/-) XY embryonic gonads demonstrated that the two Sox9 gene activity amplifying pathways work independently. These data suggest that, once activated and maintained by SOX9, production of testicular L-PGDS leads to the accumulation of PGD2, which in turn activates Sox9 transcription and nuclear translocation of SOX9. This mechanism participates together with FGF9 as an amplification system of Sox9 gene expression and activity during mammalian testicular organogenesis.
Project description:Mammalian sex determination is controlled by antagonistic pathways that are initially co-expressed in the bipotential gonad and subsequently become male- or female-specific. In XY gonads, testis development is initiated by upregulation of Sox9 by SRY in pre-Sertoli cells. Disruption of either gene leads to complete male-to-female sex reversal. Ovarian development is dependent on canonical Wnt signaling through Wnt4, Rspo1 and ?-catenin. However, only a partial female-to-male sex reversal results from disruption of these ovary-promoting genes. In Wnt4 and Rspo1 mutants, there is evidence of pregranulosa cell-to-Sertoli cell transdifferentiation near birth, following a severe decline in germ cells. It is currently unclear why primary sex reversal does not occur at the sex-determining stage, but instead occurs near birth in these mutants. Here we show that Wnt4-null and Rspo1-null pregranulosa cells transition through a differentiated granulosa cell state prior to transdifferentiating towards a Sertoli cell fate. This transition is preceded by a wave of germ cell death that is closely associated with the disruption of pregranulosa cell quiescence. Our results suggest that maintenance of mitotic arrest in pregranulosa cells may preclude upregulation of Sox9 in cases where female sex-determining genes are disrupted. This may explain the lack of complete sex reversal in such mutants at the sex-determining stage.
Project description:To define the repertoire of Sox9-dependent genes that contribute to the regulation of chondrogenesis, we generated Sox9-3'enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) knock-in mice (Sox9-3'EGFP) and Sox9-EGFP/EGFP null chimeras. EGFP-positive cells of Sox9-3'EGFP knock-in and Sox9-EGFP/EGFP null chimeric embryos harvested from limb buds at embryonic day 12.5 were sorted using a FACSAria flow cytometer (Becton-Dickinson). Total RNA of sorted cells was extracted using the RNeasy Mini Kit (QIAGEN) and amplified according to the instructions provided by Affymetrix. Microarray analysis using the Affymetrix Mouse Genome 430 2.0 Array was performed according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Project description:Using a comprehensive transcriptome analysis, a Z chromosome-linked chicken homolog of hemogen (cHEMGN) was identified and shown to be specifically involved in testis differentiation in early chicken embryos. Hemogen [Hemgn in mice, EDAG (erythroid differentiation-associated gene protein) in humans] was recently characterized as a hematopoietic tissue-specific gene encoding a transcription factor that regulates the proliferation and differentiation of hematopoietic cells in mammals. In chicken, cHEMGN was expressed not only in hematopoietic tissues but also in the early embryonic gonad of male chickens. The male-specific expression was identified in the nucleus of (pre)Sertoli cells after the sex determination period and before the expression of SOX9 (SRY-box 9). The expression of cHEMGN was induced in ZW embryonic gonads that were masculinized by aromatase inhibitor treatment. ZW embryos overexpressing cHEMGN, generated by infection with retrovirus carrying cHEMGN, showed masculinized gonads. These findings suggest that cHEMGN is a transcription factor specifically involved in chicken sex determination.
Project description:SOX9 controls cell lineage fate and differentiation in major biological processes. It is known as a potent transcriptional activator of differentiation-specific genes, but its earliest targets and its contribution to priming chromatin for gene activation remain unknown. Here, we address this knowledge gap using chondrogenesis as a model system. By profiling the whole transcriptome and the whole epigenome of wild-type and Sox9-deficient mouse embryo limb buds, we uncover multiple structural and regulatory genes, including Fam101a, Myh14, Sema3c and Sema3d, as specific markers of precartilaginous condensation, and we provide evidence of their direct transactivation by SOX9. Intriguingly, we find that SOX9 helps remove epigenetic signatures of transcriptional repression and establish active-promoter and active-enhancer marks at precartilage- and cartilage-specific loci, but is not absolutely required to initiate these changes and activate transcription. Altogether, these findings widen our current knowledge of SOX9 targets in early chondrogenesis and call for new studies to identify the pioneer and transactivating factors that act upstream of or along with SOX9 to prompt chromatin remodeling and specific gene activation at the onset of chondrogenesis and other processes.
Project description:Wilms tumor protein 1 (WT1) has been implicated in the control of several genes in sexual development, but its function in gonad formation is still unclear. Here, we report that WT1 stimulates expression of Kdr, the gene encoding VEGF receptor 2, in murine embryonic gonads. We found that WT1 and KDR are co-expressed in Sertoli cells of the testes and somatic cells of embryonic ovaries. Vivo-morpholino-mediated WT1 knockdown decreased Kdr transcripts in cultured embryonic gonads at multiple developmental stages. Furthermore, WT1 bound to the Kdr promoter in the chromatin of embryonic testes and ovaries. Forced expression of the WT1(-KTS) isoform, which functions as a transcription factor, increased KDR mRNA levels, whereas the WT1(+KTS) isoform, which acts presumably on the post-transcriptional level, did not. ChIP indicated that WT1(-KTS), but not WT1(+KTS), binds to the KDR promoter. Treatment with the KDR tyrosine kinase inhibitor SU1498 or the KDR ligand VEGFA revealed that KDR signaling represses the testis-promoting gene Sox9 in embryonic XX gonads. WT1 knockdown abrogated the stimulatory effect of SU1498-mediated KDR inhibition on Sox9 expression. Exposure to 1% O2 to mimic the low-oxygen conditions in the embryo increased Vegfa expression but did not affect Sox9 mRNA levels in gonadal explants. However, incubation in 1% O2 in the presence of SU1498 significantly reduced Sox9 transcripts in cultured testes and increased Sox9 levels in ovaries. These findings demonstrate that both the local oxygen environment and WT1, which enhances KDR expression, contribute to sex-specific Sox9 expression in developing murine gonads.