facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Female differentiation in the fetus is not default, has to be activated

New research suggests that the FOXL2 gene initiates the sex differentiation process, and when activated causes ovaries to develop.
By Ananth Baliga   |   Jan. 31, 2014 at 10:01 AM   |   Comments

http://cdnph.upi.com/sv/em/i/UPI-2251391180489/2014/1/13911834842369/Female-differentiation-in-the-fetus-is-not-default-has-to-be-activated.jpg
PARIS, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Female development in the fetus is activated by the FOXL2 gene, blocking male gene expression, meaning the default of sex of a fetus is not female.

Researchers at the INRA, in Paris, France, have identified the FOXL2 gene as responsible for female differentiation.

Females were long believed to be the "default" sex of a fetus, with a gene on the Y chromosome leading to male differentiation. But in some cases an XX fetus, programmed to be female, fails to develop ovaries and instead is born with male characteristics.

On analyzing the genes of such fetuses, researches identified the FOXL2 gene, which acts like a "defender of the ovary," silencing the male genes as the ovary develops and well into adulthood. These findings have been published in the journal Current Biology.

Using goat embryos, researchers silenced the FOXL2 gene and witnessed that XX fetuses developed testes instead of ovaries, explaining the development of male characteristics in XX fetuses.

The FOXL2 gene had previously been linked to premature menopause in young women. Techniques are being developed based on the goat model to treat certain types of infertility.


[INRA]
[Current Biology]

Follow @antbaliga and @UPI on Twitter.
Contact the Author
© 2014 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Most Popular
1
Next-generation space suits will be like second skin Next-generation space suits will be like second skin
2
MAVEN space probe to reach Mars this weekend MAVEN space probe to reach Mars this weekend
3
Ship sunk off coast of Texas to create artificial reef Ship sunk off coast of Texas to create artificial reef
4
NASA says they found smallest known galaxy with a black hole NASA says they found smallest known galaxy with a black hole
5
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to join climate march U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to join climate march
Trending News
Video
x
Feedback