Expression patterns of sex steroid receptors in developing mesonephros of the male mouse: three-dimensional analysis

Takuya Omotehara, Rex A. Hess, Hiroki Nakata, Lynn A. Birch, Gail S. Prins, Masahiro Itoh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The androgen pathway via androgen receptor (AR) has received the most attention for development of male reproductive tracts. The estrogen pathway through estrogen receptor (ESR1) is also a major contributor to rete testis and efferent duct formation, but the role of progesterone via progesterone receptor (PGR) has largely been overlooked. Expression patterns of these receptors in the mesonephric tubules (MTs) and Wolffian duct (WD), which differentiate into the efferent ductules and epididymis, respectively, remain unclear because of the difficulty in distinguishing each region of the tracts. This study investigated AR, ESR1, and PGR expressions in the murine mesonephros using three-dimensional (3-D) reconstruction. The receptors were localized in serial paraffin sections of the mouse testis and mesonephros by immunohistochemistry on embryonic days (E) 12.5, 15.5, and 18.5. Specific regions of the developing MTs and WD were determined by 3-D reconstruction using Amira software. AR was found first in the specific portion of the MTs near the MT-rete junction at E12.5, and the epithelial expression showed increasing strength from cranial to the caudal regions. Epithelial expression of ESR1 was found in the cranial WD and MTs near the WD first at E15.5. PGR was weakly positive only in the MTs and cranial WD starting on E15.5. This 3-D analysis suggests that gonadal androgen acts first on the MTs near the MT-rete junction but that estrogen is the first to influence MTs near the WD, while potential PGR activity is delayed and limited to the epithelium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)577-593
Number of pages17
JournalCell and Tissue Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2023


  • Androgen receptor
  • Efferent ductule
  • Epididymis
  • Estrogen receptor
  • Progesterone receptor
  • Rete testis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Cell Biology
  • Histology


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