Blanche Capel

Blanche Capel
James B. Duke Professor of Cell Biology
CMB - Cell Biology
DSCB - Developmental Genetics
DSCB - Evolution and Development
Third Year Mentor - Clinical Research Study Program (CRSP)
Third Year Mentor - Human Genetics and Genomics Study Program (HGP)
Third Year Mentor - Pathology Study Program (PSP)
Campus mail: 307 Research Drive, Nanaline Bldg Room 452, Durham, NC 27710
Phone: (919) 684-6390

In mammals, the primary step in male sex determination is the initiation of testis development in the bipotential gonad primordium. This step depends on the Y-linked male sex-determining gene, Sry. Expression of Sry in the XY gonad, or as a transgene in an XX gonad, leads to the differentiation of Sertoli cells. Failures in Sertoli cell differentiation in the XY gonad result in sex reversal and ovary formation. In addition to Sertoli cell differentiation, we are studying the signaling pathways between Sry expression and early steps in testis organogenesis using mouse as a model system. Using genetic and cell biology approaches, we determined the origin of several key cell types of the testis. We also identified two pathways, proliferation and cell migration, that are controlled by Sry and lead to the architectural patterning of the testis. Currently we are investigating the novel hypothesis that reciprocal signals between the vasculature and Sertoli cells are involved in patterning testis cords. Testis organogenesis is an ideal model system to study the integration of vasculature during development of organ structure. In addition, we are investigating critical signals between Sertoli cells and germ cells during testis cord formation. Defects in these signals result in teratomas and gonadal blastomas, common neoplasias in young boys. Experimental approaches include the use of molecular and biochemical techniques, mutant mice, transgenics, organ culture assays, differential screens, immunocytochemistry imaging techniques, and classic mouse genetics.

Education and Training

  • University of Pennsylvania, Ph.D. 1989

Selected Grants and Awards

Publications

Blurring the edges in vertebrate sex determination.

Sex in vertebrates is determined by genetically or environmentally based signals. These signals initiate molecular cascades and cell-cell interactions within the gonad that lead to the adoption of the male or female fate.

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