Epigenetic abnormality of SRY gene in the adult XY female with pericentric inversion of the Y chromosome


Nobuhiko Hoshi, DVM, DMSc, PhD, Department of Animal Science, Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Kobe University, Kobe 657-8501, Japan. Email: nobhoshi@kobe-u.ac.jp


In normal ontogenetic development, the expression of the sex-determining region of the Y chromosome (SRY) gene, involved in the first step of male sex differentiation, is spatiotemporally regulated in an elaborate fashion. SRY is expressed in germ cells and Sertoli cells in adult testes. However, only few reports have focused on the expressions of SRY and the other sex-determining genes in both the classical organ developing through these genes (gonad) and the peripheral tissue (skin) of adult XY females. In this study, we examined the gonadal tissue and fibroblasts of a 17-year-old woman suspected of having disorders of sexual differentiation by cytogenetic, histological, and molecular analyses. The patient was found to have the 46,X,inv(Y)(p11.2q11.2) karyotype and streak gonads with abnormally prolonged SRY expression. The sex-determining gene expressions in the patient-derived fibroblasts were significantly changed relative to those from a normal male. Further, the acetylated histone H3 levels in the SRY region were significantly high relative to those of the normal male. As SRY is epistatic in the sex-determination pathway, the prolonged SRY expression possibly induced a destabilizing effect on the expressions of the downstream sex-determining genes. Collectively, alterations in the sex-determining gene expressions persisted in association with disorders of sexual differentiation not only in the streak gonads but also in the skin of the patient. The findings suggest that correct regulation of SRY expression is crucial for normal male sex differentiation, even if SRY is translated normally.