Sry Expression Level and Protein Isoform Differences Play a Role in Abnormal Testis Development in C57BL/6J Mice Carrying Certain Sry Alleles.

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Genetics 2003 May; 164(1):277-88.


Transfer of certain Mus domesticus-derived Y chromosomes (Sry(DOM) alleles, e.g., Sry(POS) and Sry(AKR)) onto the C57BL/6J (B6) mouse strain causes abnormal gonad development due to an aberrant interaction between the Sry(DOM) allele and the B6-derived autosomal (tda) genes. For example, B6 XY(POS) fetuses develop ovaries and ovotestes and B6 XY(AKR) fetuses have delayed testis cord development. To test whether abnormal testis development is caused by insufficient Sry(DOM) expression, two approaches were used. First, gonad development and relative Sry expression levels were examined in fetal gonads from two strains of B6 mice that contained a single M. domesticus-derived and a single M. musculus-derived Sry allele (B6-Y(POS,RIII) and B6-Y(AKR,RIII)). In both cases, presence of the M. musculus Sry(RIII) allele corrected abnormal testis development. On the B6 background, Sry(POS) was expressed at about half the level of Sry(RIII) whereas Sry(AKR) and Sry(RIII) were equally expressed. On an F(1) hybrid background, both Sry(POS) and Sry(RIII) expression increased, but Sry(POS) expression increased to a greater extent. Second, sexual development and Sry expression levels were determined in XX mice carrying a transgene expressing Sry(POS) controlled by POS-derived or MUS-derived regulatory regions. In both cases one B6 transgenic line was recovered in which XX transgenic mice developed only testicular tissue but cord development was delayed despite normal Sry transcriptional initiation and overexpression. For three transgenes where B6 XX transgenic mice developed as females, hermaphrodites, or males, the percentage of XX transgenic males increased on an F(1) background. For the one transgene examined, Sry expression increased on an F(1) background. These results support a model in which delayed testis development is caused by the presence of particular DOM SRY protein isoforms and this, combined with insufficient Sry expression, causes sex reversal. These results also indicate that at least one tda gene regulates Sry expression, possibly by directly binding to Sry regulatory regions.