Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 11th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Determined Sex

Silencing the WT1 gene early in gonad development provides insight into its role in genital development

28 July 2022

Determined Sex

To study the mechanisms by which genetic mutations cause disease in humans, researchers replicate comparable mutations in mice and closely observe their development (such as the developing mouse ovary pictured). But if those mice can’t endure the mutations, and do not survive to adulthood, their use is limited. Mutations of the WT1 gene are linked to defects in the development of male and female genitalia. Previously, mice engineered to lack this gene were so severely impacted that only minimal insights could be gleaned, but a new approach has created a more viable strain of mouse, with the gene silenced during early gonad [testes or ovaries] development. These mice developed genital tracts containing both male and female structures, had ambiguous external genitalia and lacked mature gonads. Understanding how WT1 helps distinguish early sex development could ultimately help us intervene with treatments for humans.

Written by Anthony Lewis

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.