Gene dosage changes in KCTD13 result in penile and testicular anomalies via diminished androgen receptor function

FASEB J. 2022 Nov;36(11):e22567. doi: 10.1096/fj.202200558R.


Despite the high prevalence of hypospadias and cryptorchidism, the genetic basis for these conditions is only beginning to be understood. Using array-comparative-genomic-hybridization (aCGH), potassium-channel-tetramerization-domain-containing-13 (KCTD13) encoded at 16p11.2 was identified as a candidate gene involved in hypospadias, cryptorchidism and other genitourinary (GU) tract anomalies. Copy number variants (CNVs) at 16p11.2 are among the most common syndromic genomic variants identified to date. Many patients with CNVs at this locus exhibit GU and/or neurodevelopmental phenotypes. KCTD13 encodes a substrate-specific adapter of a BCR (BTB-CUL3-RBX1) E3-ubiquitin-protein-ligase complex (BCR (BTB-CUL3-RBX1) E3-ubiquitin-protein-ligase complex (B-cell receptor (BCR) [BTB (the BTB domain is a conserved motif involved in protein-protein interactions) Cullin3 complex RING protein Rbx1] E3-ubiqutin-protein-ligase complex), which has essential roles in the regulation of cellular cytoskeleton, migration, proliferation, and neurodevelopment; yet its role in GU development is unknown. The prevalence of KCTD13 CNVs in patients with GU anomalies (2.58%) is significantly elevated when compared with patients without GU anomalies or in the general population (0.10%). KCTD13 is robustly expressed in the developing GU tract. Loss of KCTD13 in cell lines results in significantly decreased levels of nuclear androgen receptor (AR), suggesting that loss of KCTD13 affects AR sub-cellular localization. Kctd13 haploinsufficiency and homozygous deletion in mice cause a significant increase in the incidence of cryptorchidism and micropenis. KCTD13-deficient mice exhibit testicular and penile abnormalities together with significantly reduced levels of nuclear AR and SOX9. In conclusion, gene-dosage changes of murine Kctd13 diminish nuclear AR sub-cellular localization, as well as decrease SOX9 expression levels which likely contribute in part to the abnormal GU tract development in Kctd13 mouse models and in patients with CNVs in KCTD13.

Keywords: KCTD13; copy number variant; cryptorchidism; penile anomalies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Androgens
  • Animals
  • Cryptorchidism* / genetics
  • Gene Dosage
  • Homozygote
  • Humans
  • Hypospadias*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • Potassium
  • Receptors, Androgen / genetics
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell / genetics
  • Sequence Deletion
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligase Complexes / metabolism*
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / metabolism
  • Ubiquitins / genetics
  • Urogenital Abnormalities


  • Androgens
  • KCTD13 protein, human
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell
  • Ubiquitins
  • PDIP1 protein, mouse
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligase Complexes
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • Potassium

Supplementary concepts

  • Genitourinary Tract Anomalies