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Sex Dev. 2012;6(1-3):108-16. doi: 10.1159/000334049. Epub 2011 Nov 15.

GTG mutation in the start codon of the androgen receptor gene in a family of horses with 64,XY disorder of sex development.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada.


Genetic sex in mammals is determined by the sex chromosomal composition of the zygote. The X and Y chromosomes are responsible for numerous factors that must work in close concert for the proper development of a healthy sexual phenotype. The role of androgens in case of XY chromosomal constitution is crucial for normal male sex differentiation. The intracellular androgenic action is mediated by the androgen receptor (AR), and its impaired function leads to a myriad of syndromes with severe clinical consequences, most notably androgen insensitivity syndrome and prostate cancer. In this paper, we investigated the possibility that an alteration of the equine AR gene explains a recently described familial XY, SRY + disorder of sex development. We uncovered a transition in the first nucleotide of the AR start codon (c.1A>G). To our knowledge, this represents the first causative AR mutation described in domestic animals. It is also a rarely observed mutation in eukaryotes and is unique among the >750 entries of the human androgen receptor mutation database. In addition, we found another quiet missense mutation in exon 1 (c.322C>T). Transcription of AR was confirmed by RT-PCR amplification of several exons. Translation of the full-length AR protein from the initiating GTG start codon was confirmed by Western blot using N- and C-terminal-specific antibodies. Two smaller peptides (25 and 14 amino acids long) were identified from the middle of exon 1 and across exons 5 and 6 by mass spectrometry. Based upon our experimental data and the supporting literature, it appears that the AR is expressed as a full-length protein and in a functional form, and the observed phenotype is the result of reduced AR protein expression levels.

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