Identification of Hedgehog Signaling Outcomes in Mouse Testis Development Using a Hanging Drop-Culture System1 Academic Article uri icon


  • The Hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway affects fetal testis growth. Recently, we described the dynamic cellular production of Hh signaling pathway components in juvenile and adult rodent testes. The Hh signaling is understood to regulate cord formation in the fetal testis, but minimal knowledge exists regarding how Hh signaling impacts the postnatal testis. To investigate this, we employed hanging drop cultures, which are used routinely in embryoid body formation. This approach has the advantage of using small media volume, and we examined its suitability for short-term culture of both murine embryonic gonads and adult testis tubules. The effects of cyclopamine, a specific Hh signaling inhibitor, were examined following culture of Embryonic Day 11.5 urogenital ridges (as control) and adult seminiferous tubule fragments for 24-48 h using histological, cell proliferation, and gene expression analyses. Cultured embryonic testes displayed generally normal cord structure, anti-M├╝llerian hormone (Amh) expression, and cell proliferation; known Hh target gene expression (Gli1, osteopontin, official symbol Spp1, and Amh) was altered in response to cyclopamine. Cultured adult tubules exhibited some loss of seminiferous epithelium organization over 48 h. Spermatogonia continued to proliferate, however, and no significant loss of viability was noted overall. Addition of cyclopamine significantly affected levels of Gli1, Igfbp6, Ccnd2 (cyclin D2), Ccnb1 (cyclin B1), Spp1, Kit, and Amh mRNAs; these genes have been shown previously to be expressed in Sertoli and germ cells. These novel results identify Hh target genes in the testis and demonstrate this signaling pathway likely affects cell survival and differentiation in the context of normal adult testis.

publication date

  • February 1, 2009