Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Sex hormone signature indicates gender rather than just chromosomes

18.10.2007
Help with assigning gender could one day be at hand for intersex individuals whose genital phenotypes and sex chromosomes don't match, thanks to the discovery of a stable sex hormone signature in our cells.

In an article published today in the online open access journal BMC Genomics, researchers have shown for the first time that testosterone leaves an irreversible molecular signature in cells that may provide a far more sophisticated way to look at sex than just ascertaining the presence of the Y chromosome. A team of researchers from the US and Germany were able to pinpoint the role of testosterone by comparing individuals with complete androgen insensitivity syndrome (CAIS) to people without CAIS. The findings provide a platform for future work that may lead to improved counselling for those whose gender is ambiguous.

Lead researcher, Professor Paul-Martin Holterhus, of University-Hospital Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel, Germany, said: "Androgens have long lasting effects during certain sensitive stages of our genital development and this is probably true for other organs". He adds "It is currently increasingly accepted that the brain shows sex-specific development in response to presence or absence of testosterone. This affects sex specific behaviour and probably modulates gender identity."

The role of androgens - especially the male-defining hormone testosterone - in sexual development has long been known. Gender programming begins in the embryo and is thought to continue throughout life, particularly during puberty. However, what's not currently known is the different roles of sex chromosome genes versus the long-term programming effects of sex hormones, namely androgens.

Individuals with CAIS, which affects 1 in 20,000 people, look like normal females. But at a genetic level CAIS women have XY sex chromosomes rather than the usual XX. The condition is due to mutations in the gene coding for the androgen receptor, which means that androgen signalling doesn't work: it essentially knocks out the effect of testosterone. The researchers used skin biopsies of external genitalia to compare the gene expression of normal males and CAIS females. Analysis revealed that between males and females, 440 genes differed in their level of transcription. The activity levels of these genes form a 'signature' that they used to evaluate partial androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS) samples and could be developed to help understand more about individual AIS cases.

"Since we compared XY females with the XY males, the difference can only be explained by differences in androgen action and not by differences in sex chromosomes," explains Professor Holterhus. "Another intriguing observation is that the one normal female (with a 46,XX genotype) in our study did not differ a lot with respect to the identified genes from the XY females. This is an important reassurance for XY females because it limits the role of the sex chromosomes in gender assignment."

Charlotte Webber | alfa
Further information:
http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcgenomics/

Further reports about: Androgen CAIS Chromosome Gender Sex Signature effect hormone testosterone

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nachricht How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>