Although the primitive vasculature is identical in XX and XY genital ridges until 11.5 days postcoitum (dpc), by 12.5 dpc the XY gonad develops a distinct vasculature. This male-specific vasculature, which includes the development of a large coelomic vessel, develops coincident with expression of Sry and formation of testis cords. We show that similar levels of proliferation and vasculogenesis expand the primary vasculature in XX and XY gonads. However, soon after Sry expression begins, the XY gonad recruits a large number of endothelial cells from the adjacent mesonephros, a mechanism totally absent in XX gonads. These migrating cells do not contribute to venous or lymphatic development. Instead, these cells contribute to the arterial system, as indicated by expression of ephrinB2 and by elements of the Notch signaling pathway. This newly formed arterial system establishes a new pattern of blood flow in the XY gonad, which we speculate may have an important role in export of testosterone to masculinize the XY embryo.
Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science (USA).