Molecular analysis in true hermaphrodites with different karyotypes and similar phenotypes

Am J Med Genet. 1996 May 17;63(2):348-55. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-8628(19960517)63:2<348::AID-AJMG5>3.0.CO;2-P.


True hermaphroditism is characterized by the development of ovarian and testicular tissue in the same individual. Müllerian and Wolffian structures are usually present, and external genitalia are often ambiguous. The most frequent karyotype in these patients is 46,XX or various forms of mosaicism, whereas 46,XX is very rarely found. The phenotype in all these subjects is similar. We studied 10 true hermaphrodites. Six of them had a 46,XX chromosomal complement: 3 had been reared as males and 3 as females. The other 4 patients were mosaics: 3 were 46,XX/46,XY and one had a 46,XX/47,XXY karyotype. One of the 46,XX/46,XY mosaics was reared as a female, whereas the other 3 mosaics were reared as males. The sex of assignment in the 10 patients depended only on labio-scrotal differentiation. Molecular studies in 46,XX subjects documented the absence of Y centromeric sequences in all cases, arguing against hidden mosaicism. One patient presented Yp sequences (ZFY+, SRY+), which contrast with South African black 46,XX true hermaphrodites in whom no Y sequences were found. Molecular analysis in the subjects with mosaicism demonstrated the presence of Y centromeric and Yp sequences confirming the presence of a Y chromosome. Gonadal development, endocrine function, and phenotype in the 10 patients did not correlate with the presence of a Y chromosome or Y-derived sequences in the genome, confirming that true hermaphroditism is a heterogeneous condition.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Disorders of Sex Development / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gonadal Dysgenesis, 46,XY
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Karyotyping
  • Kruppel-Like Transcription Factors
  • Male
  • Nuclear Proteins*
  • Phenotype
  • Sex Determination Analysis
  • Sex-Determining Region Y Protein
  • Transcription Factors*
  • Y Chromosome*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Kruppel-Like Transcription Factors
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • SRY protein, human
  • Sex-Determining Region Y Protein
  • Transcription Factors
  • ZFY protein, human
  • zinc finger protein, X-linked