Int. J. Dev. Biol. 47: 451 - 458 (2003)
© UPV/EHU Press

Abnormal sex-duct development in female moles: the role of anti-Müllerian hormone and testosterone.

Federico Zurita, Francisco J Barrionuevo, Philippe Berta, Esperanza Ortega, Miguel Burgos and Rafael Jiménez

Departamento de Genética, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Granada, Spain.

ABSTRACT We have performed a morphological, hormonal and molecular study of the development of the sex ducts in the mole Talpa occidentalis. Females develop bilateral ovotestes with a functional ovarian portion and disgenic testicular tissue. The Müllerian ducts develop normally in females and their regression is very fast in males, suggesting a powerful action of the anti-Müllerian hormone in the mole. RT-PCR demonstrated that the gene governing this hormone begins to be expressed in males coinciding with testis differentiation, and expression continues until shortly after birth. Immunohistochemical studies showed that expression occurs in the Sertoli cells of testes. No expression was detected in females. Wolffian duct development was normal in males and degenerate in prenatal females, but developmental recovery after birth gave rise to the formation of rudimentary epididymides. This event coincides in time with increasing serum testosterone levels and Leydig cell differentiation in the female gonad, thus suggesting that testosterone produced by the ovotestes is responsible for masculinisation of female moles. During postnatal development, serum testosterone concentrations decreased in males but increased in females, thus approaching the levels that adult males and females have during the non-breeding season.