Talk:2009 Lecture 16

From Embryology


This section of notes covers genital development. Differences in development are dependent on a protein product of the Y chromosome SRY gene. Mesonephric duct (Wolffian Duct) and paramesonephric (Mullerian Duct) contribute the majority of male and female internal genital tract respectively.

File:Ychr.jpg File:Urogen2.jpg File:Hg5.gif
Y Chromosome
Indifferent stage
Human Male (stage 22)

The mesonephric/paramesonephric duct changes are one of the first male/female differences that occur in development, while external genitaila remain indeterminate in appearance for quite a while.

3 stages:

  1. Differentiation of gonad (Sex determination)
  2. Differentiation of internal genital organs
  3. Differentiation of external genital organs

The 2nd and 3rd stages dependent on endocrine gonad. Reproductive development has a long maturation timecourse, begining in the embryo and finishing in puberty. (More? [../Child/puberty.htm Puberty])

Page Links: [#Intro Introduction] | [#Recent Some Recent Findings] | [#Reading Reading] | [#Overview Development Overview] | [#Objectives Objectives] | [#Learn Learning activities] | [#Computer Computer Activities] | [#Movies Movies] | [#References References] | [#Glossary Glossary]

Some Recent Findings

Yamada G, Suzuki K, Haraguchi R, Miyagawa S, Satoh Y, Kamimura M, Nakagata N, Kataoka H, Kuroiwa A, Chen Y. Molecular genetic cascades for external genitalia formation: An emerging organogenesis program. Dev Dyn. 2006 Jul;235(7):1738-52.

"External genitalia are anatomical structures located at the posterior embryonic region as part of several urogenital/reproductive organs. The embryonic anlage of the external genitalia, the genital tubercle (GT) develops as a bud-shaped structure with an initial urethral plate and later urethra. Embryonic external genitalia are considered to be one of the appendages. Recent experiments suggest that essential regulatory genes possess similar functions for the outgrowth regulation of the GT and limb appendages."

Internal Genital Differentiation

File:Urogen2.jpg File:Urogen1.jpg File:Urogen3.jpg
Müllerian Duct (paramesonephric) - blue
Wolffian Duct (mesonephric) - red


  • Human Embryology (2nd ed.) Larson Ch10 p261-306
  • The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology (6th ed.) Moore and Persaud Ch13 p303-346
  • Before We Are Born (5th ed.) Moore and Persaud Ch14 p289-326
  • Essentials of Human Embryology, Larson Ch10 p173-205
  • Human Embryology, Fitzgerald and Fitzgerald Ch21-22 p134-152
  • Developmental Biology (6th ed.) Gilbert Ch14 Intermediate Mesoderm
  • UNSW Embryology [../Refer/urogen_ref.htm References]


  • Understand the role of the Y chromosome in sex determination.
  • Understand the differences in male/female duct develpoment (mesonephric/paramesonephric).
  • Compare the development of the cloaca in the male and female.
  • Understand the developmental abnormalities in male and female development.

Learning activities

  • Study the developmental overview of gonad/genital development.
  • Study the early stage 13/14 embryo urogenital region and identify mesonephric duct, genital ridge.
  • Study the late stage 22 male embryo urogenital region and identify mesonephric duct, paramesonephric duct, genital tubercle, scrotal swellings.
  • Study the early female fetal (week 10) urogenital region and identify paramesonephric duct, mesonephric duct, , ovary, developing uterus/vagina, genital tubercle.
  • Watch the animations (listed under movies) of male/female genital development.

Computer Activities

[genital2.htm Abnormalities] | [genitalY.htm Y chromosome] | [genitalX.htm X chromosome] | [genitalXX.htm Ovary] | [genital3.htm Stage 13/14 Embryo] | [genital4.htm Stage 22 Embryo] | [genital5.htm Stage 22 Highpower] | [../Movies/urogen.htm Urogenital Movies] | [../Refer/urogen_ref.htm References] | [urogentxt.htm Text only page] | [genitallink.htm WWW Links]

Embryo Images Unit: Embryo Images Online | Urongenital Development | Internal Genitalia | Definitive Kidney | External Genitalia


[../Movies/urogen.htm Urogenital Movies]

File:E105.jpg[../Movies/genital/germcell.htm Primordial Germ Cell (PGC) migration] File:Germcell.jpg[../Movies/larsen/ Germ Cell Migration] (440 Kb)
File:Fe.jpg[../Movies/larsen/ Female Gonad] (228 Kb) File:Ma.jpg[../Movies/larsen/ Male Gonad] (288 Kb)
File:Female.jpg[../Movies/larsen/ Female External] (288 Kb) File:Male.jpg[../Movies/larsen/ Male External] (288 Kb)
File:Gonad.jpg[../Movies/larsen/ Aortic Branches to Glands (Gonads only)] (765Kb) File:Testes.jpg[../Movies/larsen/ Testes Descent ](172 Kb)

Development Overview

Sex Determination

  • Humans (week 5-6)
  • Germ cells migrate into gonadal ridge
  • Gonads (male/female) identical at this stage, indifferent

Gonad development

  • dependent on sex chromosome
  • Y testes
  • No Y ovary


  • SRY protein (Testes determining factor, TDF) binds DNA
  • Transcription factor, Bends DNA 70-80 degrees

Internal Genital Organs

  • All embryos form paired
  • Mesonephric duct, see kidney development
  • Paramesonephric duct, Humans 7th week Invagination of coelomic epithelium Cord grows and terminates on urogenital sinus
  • Male Gonad (testes) secretes Mullerian duct inhibitory factor (MDIF) which causes regression of paramesonephric duct
  • Male Gonad (testes) secretes Testosterone which retains mesonephric duct

External Genital Organs

  • All embryos initially same (indifferent)
  • Testosterone differentiates male


[Index/A.htm A] | [Index/B.htm B] | [Index/C.htm C] | [Index/D.htm D] | [Index/E.htm E] | [Index/F.htm F] | [Index/G.htm G] | [Index/H.htm H] | [Index/I.htm I] | [Index/J.htm J] | [Index/K.htm K] | [Index/L.htm L] | [Index/M.htm M] | [Index/N.htm N] | [Index/O.htm O] | [Index/P.htm P] | [Index/Q.htm Q] | [Index/R.htm R] | [Index/S.htm S] | [Index/T.htm T] | [Index/U.htm U] | [Index/V.htm V] | [Index/W.htm W] | [Index/X.htm X] | [Index/Y.htm Y] | [Index/Z.htm Z]

Quick Links

Urogenital Pages:

[urogen2.htm#abnormal Abnormalities] | [urogen_ref.htm References] | [urogen2.htm#OMIM OMIM] | [urogen2.htm#Questions Questions] | [urogen2.htm#PubMed Medline] | [urogen3.htm#Pig Pig (stage13/14)] | [urogen4.htm#Human Human (Stage22)] | [urogen4.htm#high%20power Selected Human highpower][urogentxt.htm Text only page] | [urogenlink.htm WWW Links]

UNSW Embryology ISBN: 978 0 7334 2609 4

UNSW CRICOS Provider Code No. 00098G



[../embryo.htm Home Page][../wwwhuman/Stages/Stages.htm Embryo stages][../wwwhuman/Fetus.htm Fetal Dev][../devnote.htm Dev Notes 1][../devnote2.htm Dev Notes 2][../sysnote.htm System Notes][../People.htm Acknowledgements]

Internal Links Genital

Introduction[genital2.htm Abnormalities][genitalXX.htm Female][genitalXXuterus.htm Uterus][genitalXY.htm Male][genitalY.htm Y Chromosome][genitalX.htm X Chromosome][urogen3.htm Stage 13/14 Embryo][urogen4.htm Stage 22 Embryo][urogen5.htm Stage 22 Highpower][../Movies/urogen.htm Urogenital Movies][../Refer/urogen_ref.htm References][urogentxt.htm Text only page][genitallink.htm WWW Links]

Internal Links

[../Movies/Movies.htm Movies][../Podcast/podcast.htm Audio][../News/news.htm News][../class.htm Class Notes][../Series.htm Serial Images][../K12/embryo.htm K12 Students][../Defect/page1.htm Abnormal][../histo.htm Histology][../sitemap.htm Site Map][Index/Index.htm Glossary][../Refer/refer.htm References][../Refer/search.htm Search]

External Links

School of Med SciUNSW MedicineUniversity of NSWUNSW Cell BiologyNCBI BooksDev Biol (Gilbert)2009-09-21T16:12:27Search Google

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EmailCopyright: Dr Mark HillCreated: 01.06.1997Updated:#BeginDate format:Ge1 31.05.2009#EndDate UNSW CRICOS Provider Code No. 00098G



The male and female reproductive systems develop initially "indifferently", it is the product of the Y chromosome SRY gene that makes the difference.

There are many different issues to consider in the development of the genital system. Importantly its sex chromosome dependence, late embryonic/fetal differential development, complex morphogenic changes, long time-course, hormonal sensitivity and hormonal influences make it a system prone to many different abnormalities.

There is also growing research interest in the downstream influence of genital development on other systems, such as neurological development.

Please email Dr Mark Hill if you wish to make a comment about this current project.©M.A. Hill, 2007