Journal article

A Dual Role for SHH during Phallus Development in a Marsupial

KY Chew, AJ Pask, D Hickford, G Shaw, MB Renfree



The mammalian phallus arises from identical primordia in both sexes and is patterned in part by the key morphogen Sonic hedgehog (SHH). We have investigated SHH and other morphogens during phallus development in the tammar wallaby. In this marsupial, testis differentiation and androgen production occurs just after birth, but it takes a further 50-60 days before the phallus becomes sexually dimorphic. One day before birth, SHH was expressed in both sexes in the urethral epithelium. In males, there was a marked upregulation of SHH, GLI2, and AR at day 50 postpartum, a time when testicular androgen production falls. SHH, GLI2, and AR were downregulated in female pouch young treated with androst..

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Funding Acknowledgements

We thank Dr. Bryson-Richardson for kindly providing the OPT image of the tammar phallus and Dr. Hongshi Yu for his assistance in SHH probe design. We also thank members of the marsupial research team for their assistance in animal handling. This study was supported by grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia project grants to MBR, GS, and AJP.