Characterization of steroidogenic factor 1 during sexual differentiation in a marsupial Academic Article uri icon


  • In eutherian mammals, such as mice and humans, steroidogenic factor 1 (SF1) plays important roles in the development of the gonad and in its steroidogenic activity. Marsupial and eutherian mammals have been evolving independently for at least 100 million years and so we were interested in comparing SF1 of a marsupial with that of eutherians. To this end, we have cloned SF1 from an Australian marsupial, the tammar wallaby. Although the amino acid sequence of SF1 is highly conserved among vertebrate species, tammar SF1 appears to have diverged less from the ancestral SF1 than have eutherian SF1 proteins. Tammar SF1 is expressed by both ovaries and testes on the day of birth, just prior to the onset of testicular differentiation, until at least 8 days after birth by which time the ovary also has begun to sexually differentiate. SF1 transcripts are localized predominantly to the pre-granulosa and Sertoli cells of the ovary and testis, respectively. In the testis SF1 transcripts are also present in the interstitial cells, although at a lower level than that which is observed in the Sertoli cells. SF1 is also transcribed in adult testis and ovary. In the adult ovary SF1 is expressed in the interstitial gland, and in the granulosa cells and theca interna of small to medium-sized antral follicles, but is not expressed in large antral follicles. Thus, although the structure of tammar SF1 is divergent from that of eutherians, its expression profile is similar, supporting a conserved role in gonadal development and steroidogenesis.


  • Graves, Jenny
  • Whitworth, Deanne J
  • Pask, Andrew J
  • Shaw, Geoffrey
  • Marshall Graves, Jennifer A
  • Behringer, Richard R
  • Renfree, Marilyn B

publication date

  • October 2001

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