The prostate gland develops from the urogenital sinus by a testosterone-dependent process of ductal morphogenesis. Sonic hedgehog (Shh) is expressed in the urogenital sinus epithelium and the time course of expression coincides with the formation of the main prostatic ducts. Expression is most abundant in the lumen of the urogenital sinus and in the contiguous proximal duct segments. The initial upregulation of Shh expression in the male urogenital sinus depends on the presence of testosterone. The function of Shh was examined in the male urogenital sinus which was transplanted under the renal capsule of an adult male host mouse. Blockade of Shh function by a neutralizing antibody interferes with Shh signaling and abrogates growth and ductal morphogenesis in the transplanted tissue. These observations show that testosterone-dependent Shh expression in the urogenital sinus is necessary for the initiation of prostate development.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.