Organogenesis of the Ovary:  A Comparative Review on Vertebrate Ovary Formation

 Abstract

The general perspective of ovary organogenesis is that the ovary is the default organ which develops in the absence of testis-promoting factors. Testis formation, on the other hand, is a male-specific event promoted by active components that override the default ovarian process. However, when comparing the sex determination mechanism among different vertebrate species, it is apparent that this default view of ovary formation can only be applied to mammals. In species such as reptiles and birds, ovary formation is an active process stimulated by estrogen. Remnants of this estrogen-dominant pathway are still present in marsupials, a close relative of eutherian mammals, like humans and mice. Although initial formation of the mammalian ovary has become strictly regulated by genetic components and is therefore independent of estrogen, the feminizing effect of estrogen regains its command in adult ovaries. When estrogen production, or its signaling, is inhibited, transdifferentiation of ovarian tissues to testis structures occur in adult females. Taken together, these observations prompt us to reconsider the process of ovary organogenesis as the default organ and question if testis development is actually the default pathway.

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Pages
36 - 41
doi
10.4161/org.2.2.2491
Type
Review
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Organogenesis of the Ovary:  A Comparative Review on Vertebrate Ovary Formation