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Positional cloning of the PIS mutation in goats and its impact on understanding mammalian sex-differentiation


In goats, the PIS (polled intersex syndrome) mutation is responsible for both the absence of horns in males and females and sex-reversal affecting exclusively XX individuals. The mode of inheritance is dominant for the polled trait and recessive for sex-reversal. In XX PIS-/- mutants, the expression of testis-specific genes is observed very precociously during gonad development. Nevertheless, a delay of 4–5 days is observed in comparison with normal testis differentiation in XY males. By positional cloning, we demonstrate that the PIS mutation is an 11.7-kb regulatory-deletion affecting the expression of two genes, PISRT1 and FOXL2 which could act synergistically to promote ovarian differentiation. The transcriptional extinction of these two genes leads, very early, to testis-formation in XX homozygous PIS-/- mutants. According to their expression profiles and bibliographic data, we propose that FOXL2 may be an ovary-differentiating gene, and the non-coding RNA PISRT1, an anti-testis factor repressing SOX9, a key regulator of testis differentiation. Under this hypothesis, SRY, the testis-determining factor would inhibit these two genes in the gonads of XY males, to ensure testis differentiation.

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Correspondence to Eric Pailhoux.

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Pailhoux, E., Vigier, B., Schibler, L. et al. Positional cloning of the PIS mutation in goats and its impact on understanding mammalian sex-differentiation. Genet Sel Evol 37, S55 (2005).

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  • PIS mutation
  • goat
  • gonad differentiation
  • XX sex-reversal
  • ovary development