Sexual differentiation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

37 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Sexual differentiation in humans is genetically and hormonally controlled. In response to a signal from a dominant acting gene on the Y chromosome, primordial cells in the embryonic gonad ridge differentiate into Sertoli cells and affect newly migrated germ cells to differentiate as spermatogonia, thus creating a testis. The cells of the embryonic testis secrete hormones that lead to the development of most, if not all, male secondary sexual characteristics. The Sertoli cells secrete müllerian inhibitory factor (MIF), causing regression of the müllerian ducts and of stray oogonia. The Leydig cells secrete testosterone, causing differentiation and growth of the wolffian duct structures. Dihydrotestosterone, created by metabolism of testosterone, causes growth of the prostate and phallus and fusion of the labioscrotal folds. In the absence of SRY, Sertoli cell differentiation does not occur. Rather germ cells migrating into the primordial gonad differentiate as oogonia and cause interstitial cells to differentiate as granulosa cells. In the absence of MIF and testosterone, the müllerian ducts differentiate and grow as female internal genitalia and the external genitalia are feminized. Several genes have been identified that control testis determination. These include SRY, WT1, SOX9, SF1, XH2, and DAX1. Most of these genes were discovered by analysis of rare cases of sex reversal (genetic sex of one type, gonadal sex of the other type).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-49
Number of pages9
JournalSeminars in Reproductive Medicine
Volume18
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Sex Differentiation
Sertoli Cells
Oogonia
Testosterone
Testis
Gonads
Germ Cells
Wolffian Ducts
Female Genitalia
Dominant Genes
Spermatogonia
Genitalia
Leydig Cells
Dihydrotestosterone
Granulosa Cells
Y Chromosome
Growth
Genes
Prostate
Cell Differentiation

Keywords

  • Gonadal differentiation
  • Gonadal dysgenesis
  • Hermaphroditism
  • Intersex conditions
  • Sex determination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Physiology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

Cite this

Sexual differentiation. / Ostrer, Harry.

In: Seminars in Reproductive Medicine, Vol. 18, No. 1, 2000, p. 41-49.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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