Genetic tug of war determines gender

May 23, 2006

U.S. scientists says whether a mammalian egg develops into a male or female is determined by a struggle between genes encoding signaling proteins.

The international study, led by Duke University Medical Center cell biologists, determined genes Wnt4 and Fgf9 are balanced during the early stages of development in the mammalian gonad before it commits to either a male testis or a female ovary. If that equilibrium is tipped in favor of Wnt4, the gonad develops into an ovary, while an Fgf9 victory leads to the formation of a testis.

What tips the balance in favor of male is a third gene, Sry, located on the Y chromosome in the genome and known to be the primary sex-determining gene in mammals, researchers said. When Sry becomes activated at a crucial moment during the early gonad's development, it favors Fgf9 and leads to testis development, said Blanche Capel, senior member of the international research team.

The study appears in the May 22 issue of the journal Public Library of Science-Biology.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Dwindling wind may tip predator-prey balance

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Wireless sensor transmits tumor pressure

15 hours ago

The interstitial pressure inside a tumor is often remarkably high compared to normal tissues and is thought to impede the delivery of chemotherapeutic agents as well as decrease the effectiveness of radiation ...

A nanosized hydrogen generator

16 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Researchers at the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have created a small scale "hydrogen generator" that uses light and a two-dimensional graphene platform to boost ...

Tim Cook puts personal touch on iPhone 6 launch

16 hours ago

Apple chief Tim Cook personally kicked off sales of the iPhone 6, joining in "selfies" and shaking hands with customers Friday outside the company's store near his Silicon Valley home.

Recommended for you

Battling superbugs with gene-editing system

3 hours ago

In recent years, new strains of bacteria have emerged that resist even the most powerful antibiotics. Each year, these superbugs, including drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis and staphylococcus, infect ...

Dwindling wind may tip predator-prey balance

Sep 19, 2014

Bent and tossed by the wind, a field of soybean plants presents a challenge for an Asian lady beetle on the hunt for aphids. But what if the air—and the soybeans—were still?

Environmental pollutants make worms susceptible to cold

Sep 19, 2014

Some pollutants are more harmful in a cold climate than in a hot, because they affect the temperature sensitivity of certain organisms. Now researchers from Danish universities have demonstrated how this ...

Research helps steer mites from bees

Sep 19, 2014

A Simon Fraser University chemistry professor has found a way to sway mites from their damaging effects on bees that care and feed the all-important queen bee.

User comments : 0