[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: External genitalia are prominent organs showing hormone-dependent sexual differentiation. Androgen is an essential regulator of masculinization of the genital tubercle (GT), which is the anlage of external genitalia. We have previously shown that v-maf avian musculoaponeurotic fibrosarcoma oncogene homolog B (MAFB) is an androgen-inducible regulator of embryonic urethral masculinization in mice. However, it remains unclear how androgen regulates Mafb expression. The current study suggests that the Mafb 3' untranslated region (UTR) is an essential region for its regulation by androgen. We identified two functional androgen response elements (AREs) in Mafb 3'UTR. Androgen receptor (AR) is bound to such AREs in 3'UTR during urethral masculinization. In addition to 3'UTR, Mafb 5'UTR also showed androgen responsiveness. Moreover, we also demonstrated that β-catenin, one of GT masculinization factors, may be an additional regulator of Mafb expression during urethral masculinization. This study provides insights to elucidate mechanisms of gene regulation through AREs present in Mafb 3'UTR for a better understanding of the processes of urethral masculinization.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The BC (bulbocavernosus) is a sexually dimorphic muscle observed only in males. ARKO (Androgen receptor knock out) mouse studies show the loss of BC formation. This suggests that androgen signaling plays a vital role in its development. Androgen has been known to induce muscle hypertrophy through satellite cell activation and myonuclei accretion during muscle regeneration and growth. Whether the same mechanism is present during embryonic development is not yet elucidated. To identify the mechanism of sexual dimorphism during BC development, the timing of morphological differences was first established. It was revealed that the BC was morphologically different between male and female mice at E16.5. Differences in the myogenic process were detected at E15.5. The male BC possesses a higher number of proliferating undifferentiated myoblasts. To identify the role of androgen signalling in this process, muscle-specific androgen receptor (AR) mutation was introduced which resulted in no observable phenotypes. Hence, the expression of AR in the BC was examined and found that the AR did not colocalize with any muscle markers such as MyoD, Myog, and Pax7. It was revealed that the mesenchyme surrounding the BC expressed AR and the BC started to express AR at E15.5. AR mutation on the non-myocytic cells utilizing Sall1 (spalt-like transcription factor 1) Cre driver mouse was performed which resulted in defective BC formation. It was revealed that the number of proliferating undifferentiated myoblasts was reduced in the SallAR (Sall1 Cre:AR(L-/Y)) mutant embryos and the adult mutants were devoid of BC. The transition of myoblasts from proliferation to differentiation is mediated by Cdk-inhibitors. An increased expression of p21 was observed in the BC myoblast of the SallAR mutant and WT female. Altogether, this study suggets that the non-myocytic AR may paracrinely regulate the proliferation of myoblast possibly through inhibiting p21 expression in myoblasts of the BC.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prostate is a male sex accessory organ. The prostatic epithelia consist primarily of basal and luminal cells that differentiate from embryonic urogenital sinus epithelia. Prostate tumors are believed to originate in the basal and luminal cells. However, factors that promote normal epithelial differentiation have not been well elucidated, particularly for bone morphogenetic protein (Bmp) signaling. This study shows that Bmp signaling prominently increases during prostatic differentiation in the luminal epithelia, which is monitored by the expression of pSmad1/5/8. To elucidate the mechanism of epithelial differentiation and the function of Bmp signaling during prostatic development, conditional male mutant mouse analysis for the epithelial-specific Bmp receptor 1a (Bmpr1a) was performed. We demonstrate that Bmp signaling is indispensable for luminal cell maturation, which regulates basal cell proliferation. Expression of the prostatic epithelial regulatory gene Nkx3.1 was significantly reduced in the Bmpr1a mutants. These results indicate that Bmp signaling is a key factor for prostatic epithelial differentiation, possibly by controlling the prostatic regulatory gene Nkx3.1.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The bulbourethral gland (BUG) is a male-specific organ, which secretes part of the semen fluid. As the BUG is located in the deep pelvic floor, its developmental process is still unclear. Bone morphogenetic protein (Bmp) signaling plays pivotal roles in various organs. However, the function of Bmp signaling for BUG development is still unclear. The present study aimed to elucidate the role of Bmp signaling in the development of the BUG. We observed the prominent nuclear accumulation of phosphorylated (p) SMAD1/5/8, the downstream molecules of Bmp signaling, during BUG epithelial development. These results suggest that Bmp signaling contributes to BUG development. Bmp receptor1a (Bmpr1a) is known as the major type 1 signal transducer in some organogeneses. To analyze the Bmp signaling function for BUG development, we examined epithelial cell-specific Bmpr1a gene conditional mutant mice utilizing the tamoxifen-inducible Cre recombinase system. We observed cystic dilation and epithelial hyperplasia of the BUG in the Bmpr1a conditional knockout mice. The mutant cystic BUG specimens also showed inflammatory lesions. These BUG abnormalities resembled some of the BUG malformations observed in human congenital syndromes. The current study suggests that Bmp signaling possesses an essential role in BUG development and homeostasis. This would be the first report showing that the mutation of the Bmpr1a gene in the BUG epithelia phenocopied some abnormalities of human congenital syndromes affecting the BUG duct.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: During embryogenesis, sexually dimorphic organogenesis is achieved by hormones produced in the gonad. The external genitalia develop from a single primordium, the genital tubercle, and their masculinization processes depend on the androgen signaling. In addition to such hormonal signaling, the involvement of nongonadal and locally produced masculinization factors has been unclear. To elucidate the mechanisms of the sexually dimorphic development of the external genitalia, series of conditional mutant mouse analyses were performed using several mutant alleles, particularly focusing on the role of hedgehog signaling pathway in this manuscript. We demonstrate that hedgehog pathway is indispensable for the establishment of male external genitalia characteristics. Sonic hedgehog is expressed in the urethral plate epithelium, and its signal is mediated through glioblastoma 2 (Gli2) in the mesenchyme. The expression level of the sexually dimorphic genes is decreased in the glioblastoma 2 mutant embryos, suggesting that hedgehog signal is likely to facilitate the masculinization processes by affecting the androgen responsiveness. In addition, a conditional mutation of Sonic hedgehog at the sexual differentiation stage leads to abnormal male external genitalia development. The current study identified hedgehog signaling pathway as a key factor not only for initial development but also for sexually dimorphic development of the external genitalia in coordination with androgen signaling.