Blepharophimosis ptosis epicanthus inversus syndrome (BPES) is a human disorder caused by mutations in the forkhead transcription factor gene FOXL2 and is characterized by facial dysmorphology combined in some cases with ovarian failure. To better understand the role of FOXL2 in the etiology of ovarian failure in BPES, we examined its expression in embryonic ovaries of mice, chickens, and red-eared slider turtles, representatives of three phylogenetically distant vertebrate groups that have different mechanisms of sex determination. Expression of Foxl2 was detected in early ovaries of all three species around the time of sex determination and was associated with both somatic and germ cell populations in mice. Expression was sexually dimorphic in all cases. Sequence analysis of turtle and chicken FoxL2 orthologues indicated an unusually high degree of structural conservation during evolution. FoxL2 was found to be autosomal in chickens, and therefore unlikely to represent the dominant ovarian-determining gene that has been postulated to exist as a possible explanation for female heterogamety in birds. Our observations suggest that BPES may result from early abnormalities in regulating the development of the fetal ovary, rather than premature degeneration of the postnatal or adult ovary. Further, our results suggest that FOXL2 is a highly conserved early regulator of vertebrate ovarian development.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||7|
|State||Published - Jul 1 2003|
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