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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2004 Apr;89(4):1767-72.

A microdeletion in the ligand binding domain of human steroidogenic factor 1 causes XY sex reversal without adrenal insufficiency.

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  • 1Developmental Endocrinology Unit, Hospital das Clínicas, Faculdade Medicina Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo 05403-900, Brazil.


Steroidogenic factor 1 (SF-1) is an orphan nuclear receptor that plays key roles in endocrine development and function. Knockout mice lacking SF-1 have adrenal and gonadal agenesis, impaired gonadotropin expression, and structural abnormalities of the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus. Previous studies have identified three human subjects with mutations in SF-1 causing adrenocortical insufficiency with varying degrees of gonadal dysfunction. We now describe a novel 8-bp microdeletion of SF-1, isolated from a 46, XY patient who presented with gonadal agenesis but normal adrenal function, which causes premature termination upstream of sequences encoding the activation function 2 domain. In cell transfection experiments, the mutated protein possessed no intrinsic transcriptional activity but rather inhibited the function of the wild-type protein in most cell types. To our knowledge, this is the first example of an apparent dominant-negative effect of a SF-1 mutation in humans. These findings, which define a SF-1 mutation that apparently differentially affects its transcriptional activity in vivo in the adrenal cortex and the gonads, may be relevant to the cohort of patients who present with 46, XY sex reversal but normal adrenal function.

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