Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development
University of Minnesota
Host: Oliver Hobert
Title: Setting and resetting sexual cell identity in the mammalian gonad
Abstract: In mammals sex is determined in the gonads during a brief period of fetal development and this decision is spread through hormonal signaling to conscript the rest of the body into the appropriate mode of development. Normally gonadal sex remains stable but we have found that the sex determination decision in males requires active lifelong reinforcement by the doublesex homolog DMRT1. Loss of DMRT1 causes male-to-female sexual cell fate transdifferentiation, while ectopic DMRT1 in the ovary can cause female-to-male reprogramming. DMRT1 belongs to an unusual family of transcription factors and we are working to understand the genetic and molecular mechanisms by which it maintains and reprograms sexual cell fate.