Human sex reversal due to impaired nuclear localization of SRY: A clinical correlation

Biaoru Li, Wei Zhang, Ging Chan, Agnes Jancso-Radek, Shunhe Liu, Michael A. Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


SRY, an architectural transcription factor encoded by the sex-determining region of the Y chromosome, initiates testicular differentiation in mammalian embryogenesis. The protein contains a high-mobility group (HMG) box, a DNA-bending motif conserved among a broad class of nuclear proteins. Mutations causing human sex reversal (46, XY pure gonadal dysgenesis) are clustered in this domain. Basic N- and C-terminal regions of the HMG box are each proposed to provide nuclear localization signals. The significance of the C-terminal basic cluster (SRY residues 130-134) is uncertain, however, as its activity in cell culture varies with assay conditions. To test its importance, we have investigated a C-terminal sex-reversal mutation (R133W, position 78 of the HMG box). This de novo mutation impairs nuclear localization but not specific DNA binding or sharp DNA bending. Correlation between these properties and the phenotype of the patient suggests that nuclear localization of SRY is required for testicular differentiation and directed in part by the C-terminal basic cluster. To our knowledge, these results provide the first example of impaired organogenesis due to a nuclear localization signal mutation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46480-46484
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number49
StatePublished - Dec 7 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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