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J Hum Genet. 2008;53(5):401-6. doi: 10.1007/s10038-008-0274-2. Epub 2008 Mar 19.

Novel compound heterozygous mutations in the SRD5A2 gene from 46,XY infants with ambiguous external genitalia.

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Department of Reproductive Biology, Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubirán, Vasco de Quiroga 15, Del. Tlalpan, México, DF CP 14000, Mexico.


Dihydrotestosterone is crucial for normal development of external genitalia and prostate in the male embryo. Autosomal recessive mutations in the 5 alpha-reductase type 2 (SRD5A2) gene disrupt the synthesis of dihydrotestosterone in the urogenital tract and give rise to genetic males with undervirilized external genitalia that may be female-like or ambiguous. In this study, three unrelated 46,XY children (0.5, 3, and 8 years old) who presented severe undermasculinization at birth were examined for genetic abnormalities in the SRD5A2 gene. Coding sequence abnormalities were ascertained by exon-specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR), single-stranded conformational polymorphism (SSCP), and sequencing analysis. Functional properties of the mutant alleles were investigated by means of site-directed mutagenesis assays. DNA molecular studies showed that all three patients were compound heterozygotes for SRD5A2 mutations. Patient 1 had a point mutation 547G --> A in exon 3 (G183S) and a novel dinucleotidic mutation 634,635CC --> TG in exon 4 (P212X). This double change results in premature termination signal (TGA) at codon 212, which predicts the expression of a truncated 211-amino acid protein. Patient 2 was the carrier of mutations G115D in exon 3 and S210F in exon 4. Patient 3 had two substitution mutations in exon 1, including a novel G --> C transversion at nucleotide 169 (E57Q) and a G --> A transition at nucleotide 254 (G85D). In transitory transfection assays, the recombinant cDNAs harboring mutations E57Q and G85D showed residual 5 alpha-reductase activity, whereas those with mutations G115D, S210F, and P212X were devoid of activity. In contrast, the G183S substitution affected the catalytic activity of the enzyme by decreasing its affinity for testosterone substrate. We describe six different mutations of the SRD5A2 gene detected in three children with genital ambiguity. These genotypes are consistent with the clinical phenotype of steroid 5 alpha-reductase 2 deficiency. Our data suggest that the combined gene variants (E57Q/G85D, G115D/S210F, and G183S/P212X) result in subfunctional or nonfunctional enzymes, causing masculinization defects in these patients. This further underscores that exon 4 of SRD5A2 may be a site prone to inactivating mutations.

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