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SRY (Sex-determining Region Y) is a sex-determining gene on the Y chromosome in the therians (placental mammals and marsupials).[1]

This intronless gene encodes a transcription factor that is a member of the high mobility group (HMG)-box family of DNA-binding proteins that contain a zinc finger domain. This protein is the testis determining factor (TDF), also referred to as the sex-determining region Y protein or SRY protein which initiates male sex determination. Mutations in this gene give rise to XY females with gonadal dysgenesis (Swyer syndrome); translocation of part of the Y chromosome containing this gene to the X chromosome causes XX male syndrome.[2]


Biochemistry of Testis Determination

During gestation, the cells of the primordial gonad that lie along the urogenital ridge are in a bipotential state, meaning they possess the ability to become either male cells (Sertoli and Leydig cells) or female cells (follicle cells and Theca cells). SRY initiates testis differentiation by activating male-specific transcription factors that allow these bipotential cells to differentiate and proliferate. SRY accomplishes this by upregulating SOX9, a transcription factor with a DNA-binding site very similar to SRY's. SOX9 in turn upregulates fibroblast growth factor 9 (Fgf9), which is necessary for proper Sertoli cell differentiation. Fgf9 then feeds back and upregulates SOX9. SOX9 can also upregulate itself by binding to its own enhancer region (positive feedback loop). Once proper SOX9 levels are reached, the bipotential cells of the gonad begin to differentiate into Sertoli cells. Additionally, cells expressing SRY will continue to proliferate to form the primordial testis. While this constitutes the basic series of events, this brief review should be taken with caution since there are many more factors that influence sex differentiation.

Effect upon anatomical sex

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