Gene expression analyses on embryonic external genitalia: identification of regulatory genes possibly involved in masculinization processes

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Androgen plays a crucial role in initiating and maintaining the expression of male sexual characteristics in mammals. In humans and mice, any defects along the pathway of androgen functions result in congenital urogenital abnormalities. The genital tubercle (GT), an anlage of the external genitalia, differentiates into a penis in males and a clitoris in females. Although masculinization of the external genitalia is androgen-dependent, the molecular pathway of its potential downstream genes is largely unclear. To identify the genes involved in mouse GT masculinization, we performed gene expression analyses, such as real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction and section in situ hybridization analysis. From our studies we have identified candidate genes, Cyp1b1, Fkbp51 and MafB as potential androgen targets during mouse GT masculinization.

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