Molecular Genetics of Sexual Development
Group Leader : Andy Greenfield
Sexual development describes the process by which the embryo develops either male or female genitalia. In mammals, the Y chromosome is a dominant male determinant and causes testis development through the action of SRY. The gonads, once formed, then produce hormones that result in the characteristic sexual differentiation of non-gonadal tissues. These include the development of the male and female reproductive tracts and the external genitalia. Disorders of sexual development (DSD) are common in the human population: abnormalities such as hypospadias and cryptorchidism (failure of testis descent) affect approximately 1% of all newborn males. A less common form of abnormality, known as complete gonadal dysgenesis (CGD), disrupts events that regulate sex determination, resulting in sex reversal i.e. the development of XY females and XX males. Utilizing the mouse as a model, my laboratory is currently focusing on the role of MAP kinase signaling in molecular events required for testis determination.