During development of the mouse urogenital complex, the gonads undergo changes in three-dimensional structure, body position and spatial relationship with the mesonephric ducts, kidneys and adrenals. The complexity of genital ridge development obscures potential connections between morphogenesis and gonadal sex determination. To characterize the morphogenic processes implicated in regulating gonad shape and fate, we used whole-embryo tissue clearing and light sheet microscopy to assemble a time course of gonad development in native form and context. Analysis revealed that gonad morphology is determined through anterior-to-posterior patterns as well as increased rates of growth, rotation and separation in the central domain that may contribute to regionalization of the gonad. We report a close alignment of gonad and mesonephric duct movements as well as delayed duct development in a gonad dysgenesis mutant, which together support a mechanical dependency linking gonad and mesonephric duct morphogenesis.

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