Blanche Capel, Ph.D. (University of Pennsylvania)

Professor, Department of Cell Biology

Duke University Appointments and Tenure Committee
Director of Admissions, Developmental Biology Training Program


452 Nanaline Duke Bldg., Box 3709
Duke University Medical Center
Durham, NC 27710

Telephone 919-684-6390
Fax 919-668-3467


Lab Site

Sex Determination, Testis and Ovary Development, and Germ Cell Biology

   The process of sex determination in mammals is dependent on the gonadal expression of a single gene on the Y chromosome, Sry. However, downstream of this dominant genetic switch are complex antagonistic signaling pathways that wage the battle of the sexes in the bipotential gonad. These signals determine the fate of gonadal cells and lead to the development of either a testis or an ovary. We study the cell and molecular pathways that regulate organogenesis of the testis and ovary. Other work in the lab centers on a comparison to temperature dependent sex determination in the red eared slider turtle Trachemys scripta elegans, and the biology of germ cells in the testis and ovary. Experimental approaches include organ culture, transgenic mice, confocal microscopy and live imaging, biochemical and molecular techniques, comparative embryology, classic mouse genetics, and systems biology.

Recent Publications:

DeFalco T, Potter SJ, Williams AV, Waller B, Kan MJ, Capel B. (2015)  Macrophages Contribute to the Spermatogonial Niche in the Adult Testis.  Cell Rep12(7):1107-19.

Bustamante-Marin XM, Cook MS, Gooding J, Newgard C, Capel B. (2015)  Left-Biased Spermatogenic Failure in 129/SvJ Dnd1Ter/+ Mice Correlates with Differences In Vascular Architecture, Oxygen Availability, and Metabolites.  Biol Reprod. 2015 Jul 29. pii: biolreprod.115.128850. [Epub ahead of print]

Lin YT, Capel B. (2015) Cell fate commitment during mammalian sex determination.  Curr Opin Genet Dev. 32:144-52.

DeFalco, T, Bhattacharya, I, Williams, AV, Sams, DM, Capel, B.  (2014) Yok-sac-derived macrophages regulate fetal testis vascularization and morphogenesis.  Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 111:E2384-2393

Capel, B. (2014) Ovarian epithelium regeneration by Lgr5(+) cells.  Nat Cell Biol 16:743-744

Capel, B. (2014)  Development. The Minimalist Y. Science 343(6166):32-3

Mork, L., Czerwinski, M. and Capel, B. (2014) Predetermination of sexual fate in a turtle with temperature-dependent xex determination. Dev Biol 386(1):264-71

Mattouk DM, Mork L, Chassot AA, Chaboissier MC, and Capel B (2013) Disruption of mitotic arrest precedes precocious differentiation and transdifferentiation of pregranulosa cells in the perinatal Wnt4 mutant ovary. Dev Biol. Epub

Munger SC, Natarajan A, Looger LL, Ohler U, Capel B (3013) Fine time course expression analysis indentifies cascades of activation and repression and maps a putative regulator of mammalian sex determination. PLoS Genet. 9(7):e1003630

Cool J, DeFalco T, and Capel B (2012) Testis formation in the fetal mouse:  dynamic and complex de novo tubulogenesis.  Wiley Interdiscip Rev Dev Biol. 1(6):847-59

Bustamante-Marin X, Garness JA, and Capel B (2013) Testicular teratomas:  an intersection of pluripotency, differentiation and cancer biology.  Int J Dev Biol. 57(2-4):201-10

Shaffer HB, Minx P, Warren DE, Shedlock AM, Thomson RC, Valenzuela N, Abramyan J, Amemiya CT, Badenhorst D, Biggar KK, Borchert GM, Botka CW, Bowden RM, Braun EL, Bronikowski AM, Bruneau BG, Buck LT, Capel B, Castoe TA, Czerwinski M, Delehaunty KD, Edwards SV, Fronick CC, Fujita MK, Fulton L, Graves TA, Green RE, Haerty W, Hariharan R, Hernandez O, Hillier LW, Holloway AK, Janes D, Janzen FJ, Kandoth C, Kong L, de Koning AJ, Li Y, Literman R, McGaugh SE, Mork L, O'Laughlin M, Paitz RT, Pollock DD, Ponting CP, Radhakrishnan S, Raney BJ, Richman JM, St John J, Schwartz T, Sethuraman A, Spinks PQ, Storey KB, Thane N, Vinar T, Zimmerman LM, Warren WC, Mardis ER, Wilson RK. The western painted turtle genome, a model for the evolution of extreme physiological adaptations in a slowly evolving lineage. Genome Biol. 14(3):R28

DeFalco T, Saraswathula A, Briot A, Iruela-Arispe ML and Capel B (2013) Testosterone levels influence mouse fetal leydig cell progenitors through notch signaling. Biol Reprod. 88(4):91

Capal B and Tanaka M (2013) Forward to the special issue on sex determination. Dev Dyn. 242(4):303-6

Garcia TX, DeFalco T, Capel B and Hofmann MC (2013) Constitutive activation of NOTCH1 signaling in Sertoli cells causes gonocyte exit from quiescence. Dev Biol. 377(1):188-201

Maatouk DM, Mork L, Hinson A, Kobayashi A, McMahon AP and Capel B (2012) Germ cells are not required to establish the female pathway in mouse fetal gonads. PLoS One 7(10):e47238

Jameson SA, Lin YT and Capel B (2012) . Testis development requires the repression of Wnt4 by Fgf sginaling. Dev. Biol. 370(1):24-32

Click here for a full list of Publications.