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Sex differentiation in mouse and man and subsequent development of the female reproductive organs.


StemBook [Internet]. Cambridge (MA): Harvard Stem Cell Institute; 2008-.
2010 Sep 30.

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Pediatric Surgical Research Laboratories, Massachusetts General Hospital and Department of Surgery, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, 02114, USA


Gender identity is a very important issue in most societies. In many instances the question of whether the newborn is a boy or girl actually precedes the question “is he/she healthy?” Thus, not being able to categorize an individual at birth as a male or female could be devastating for any parent, as well as for the affected individual. Recommendations for sex rearing continues to be challenging, requiring the involvement of medical, surgical, and psychological professionals working together in multispeciality clinics. Patients need to be monitored for years to ensure that their subsequent adaptation to the assigned gender progresses as expected. Despite several genes being associated with sex reversal and genital ambiguity, most of which affect males, there are still cases for which the genetic candidate remains unknown. The issue becomes more complex when we consider females, since very little is known about how ovaries develop. So limited is our understanding of ovarian formation that a bias that ovaries develop only when testis genes are not expressed has been ingrained. However, since studies of humans with intersex abnormalities have suggested that ovarian formation is an active process, it is now reasonable, even compelling, to screen for ovary-determining genes. This chapter will discuss early mammalian sex differentiation in mouse and man and also subsequent development of female reproductive organs, when possible, relating mouse knockout phenotype to human disease.

Copyright: © 2010 Nelson A. Arango and Patricia K. Donahoe.

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