INVITED REVIEW
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 360-366

The role of sex chromosomes in mammalian germ cell differentiation: can the germ cells carrying X and Y chromosomes differentiate into fertile oocytes?


Department of Surgery, Research Institute of MUHC; Department of Biology; Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Correspondence Address:
Teruko Taketo
Department of Surgery, Research Institute of MUHC; Department of Biology; Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec
Canada
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1008-682X.143306

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The sexual differentiation of germ cells into spermatozoa or oocytes is strictly regulated by their gonadal environment, testis or ovary, which is determined by the presence or absence of the Y chromosome, respectively. Hence, in normal mammalian development, male germ cells differentiate in the presence of X and Y chromosomes, and female germ cells do so in the presence of two X chromosomes. However, gonadal sex reversal occurs in humans as well as in other mammalian species, and the resultant XX males and XY females can lead healthy lives, except for a complete or partial loss of fertility. Germ cells carrying an abnormal set of sex chromosomes are efficiently eliminated by multilayered surveillance mechanisms in the testis, and also, though more variably, in the ovary. Studying the molecular basis for sex-specific responses to a set of sex chromosomes during gametogenesis will promote our understanding of meiotic processes contributing to the evolution of sex determining mechanisms. This review discusses the fate of germ cells carrying various sex chromosomal compositions in mouse models, the limitation of which may be overcome by recent successes in the differentiation of functional germ cells from embryonic stem cells under experimental conditions.


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