The application of microarray technology to the study of mammalian organogenesis can provide greater insights into the steps necessary to elicit a functionally competent tissue. To this end, a temporal profile of gene expression was generated with the purpose of identifying changes in gene expression occurring within the developing male and female embryonic gonad. Gonad tissue was collected from mouse embryos at 11.5, 12.5, 14.5, 16.5, and 18.5 days postcoitum (dpc) and relative steady-state levels of mRNA were determined using the Affymetrix MGU74v2 microarray platform. Statistical analysis produced 3693 transcripts exhibiting differential expression during male and/or female gonad development. At 11.5 dpc, the gonad is morphologically indifferent, but at 12.5 dpc, transitions to a male or female phenotype are discernible by the appearance of testicular cords. A number of genes are expressed during this period and many share similar expression profiles in both sexes. As expected, the expression of two well-known sex determination genes, specifically Sry and Sox9, is unique to the testis. Beyond 12.5 dpc, differential gene expression becomes increasingly evident as the male and female tissue morphologically and physiologically diverges. This is evident by two unique waves of transcriptional activity occurring after 14.5 dpc in the male and female. With this study, a large number of transcripts comprising the murine transcriptome can be examined throughout male and female embryonic gonad development and allow for a more complete description of gonad differentiation and development.
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