, Volume 19, Issue 3-4, pp 355-371

Sex-limited effects of the expression of the db gene in mice during puberty

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The autosomal recessive gene diabetes (db) produces a condition similar to human insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in certain strains of inbred mice. In this investigation, the effects of expression of the db gene on the development of the submandibular glands, electrophoretic protein patterns in salivas, fasting blood glucose levels, and glycosylated hemoglobin levels were evaluated in mice undergoing puberty. Three sex-limited effects of the db gene were observed in diabetic male mice: (1) a compromise of the development of the specialized submandibular glands with the extensive tubular portion normally found in males, (2) failure to develop a salivary protein pattern unique to male mice, and (3) attainment of higher levels of fasting blood glucose than found in female diabetic mice. Since it has been documented that homozygous mice fail to develop functional gonads, apparently due to insufficient production of gonadotropin, it is likely that the compromised development of the specialized submandibular glands, and, consequently, the male salivary protein pattern, is a result of decreased testosterone production. Experiments in which diabetic mice were treated with testosterone support that conclusion, since testosterone caused transformation of the salivary protein pattern to one identical with that of normal male littermate controls and increased the tubular portion of the submandibular glands.