Abnormalities of gonadal differentiation

Baillieres Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1998 Apr;12(1):133-42. doi: 10.1016/s0950-351x(98)80512-0.


Gonadal differentiation involves a complex interplay of developmental pathways. The sex determining region Y (SRY) gene plays a key role in testis determination, but its interaction with other genes is less well understood. Abnormalities of gonadal differentiation result in a range of clinical problems. 46,XY complete gonadal dysgenesis is defined by an absence of testis determination. Subjects have female external genitalia and come to clinical attention because of delayed puberty. Individuals with 46,XY partial gonadal dysgenesis usually present in the newborn period for the valuation of ambiguous genitalia. Gonadal histology always shows an abnormality of seminiferous tubule formation. A diagnosis of 46,XY true hermaphroditism is made if the gonads contain well-formed testicular and ovarian elements. Despite the pivotal role of the SRY gene in testis development, mutations of SRY are unusual in subjects with a 46,XY karyotype and abnormal gonadal development. 46,XX maleness is defined by testis determination in an individual with a 46,XX karyotype. Most affected individuals have a phenotype similar to that of Klinefelter syndrome. In contrast, subjects with 46,XX true hermaphroditism usually present with ambiguous genitalia. The majority of subjects with 46,XX maleness have Y sequences including SRY in genomic DNA. However, only rare subjects with 46,XX true hermaphroditism have translocated sequences encoding SRY. Mosaicism and chimaerism involving the Y chromosome can also be associated with abnormal gonadal development. However, the vast majority of subjects with 45,X/46,XY mosaicism have normal testes and normal male external genitalia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chimera / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Disorders of Sex Development / embryology
  • Disorders of Sex Development / genetics*
  • Disorders of Sex Development / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Genitalia, Female / abnormalities*
  • Genitalia, Female / embryology
  • Genitalia, Female / physiopathology
  • Genitalia, Male / abnormalities*
  • Genitalia, Male / embryology
  • Genitalia, Male / physiopathology
  • Gonadal Dysgenesis / embryology
  • Gonadal Dysgenesis / genetics*
  • Gonadal Dysgenesis / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mosaicism / genetics
  • Mosaicism / physiopathology
  • Nuclear Proteins*
  • Sex Differentiation / genetics*
  • Sex-Determining Region Y Protein
  • Transcription Factors*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • SRY protein, human
  • Sex-Determining Region Y Protein
  • Transcription Factors