Zfy gene expression patterns are not compatible with a primary role in mouse sex determination

Abstract

THE Y chromosome determines maleness in mammals. A Y chromosome-linked gene diverts the indifferent embryonic gonad from the default ovarian pathway in favour of testis differentiation, initiating male development1,2. Study of this basic developmental switch requires the isolation of the testis-determining gene, termed TDF in humans and Tdy in mice. ZFY, a candidate gene for TDF, potentially encodes a zinc-finger protein3, and has two Y-linked homologues, Zfy-1 and Zfy-2, in mice4,5. Although ZFY, Zfy-1 and Zfy-2 seem to map to the sex-determining regions of the human and mouse Y chromosomes, there is no direct evidence that these genes are involved in testis determination. We report here that Zfy-1 but not Zfy-2 is expressed in differentiating embryonic mouse testes. Neither gene, however, is expressed in We/We mutant embryonic testes which lack germ cells. These observations exclude both Zfy-1 and Zfy-2 as candidates for the mouse testis-determining gene.

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Koopman, P., Gubbay, J., Collignon, J. et al. Zfy gene expression patterns are not compatible with a primary role in mouse sex determination. Nature 342, 940–942 (1989) doi:10.1038/342940a0

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