They discover a set of molecules that determine sex in mammals.

2024/06/20 Etxebeste Aduriz, Egoitz - Elhuyar Zientzia Iturria: Elhuyar aldizkaria

Ed. Branch / CC BY-SA

Researchers from the Centre for Developmental Biology of Andalusia and the University of Granada have identified a set of molecules that determine sex in mammals. In mice, small RNA molecules called microRNA have been shown to be decisive in the process of sexual determination. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.

The embryonic gonad of mammals could develop as an ovary or testicle. In XY embryos, the SRY gene on the Y chromosome activates testicular development and, in its absence, initiates ovarian development.

It has now been shown that, in addition to the SYR gene, a group of microRNA is determinant. In fact, researchers have seen that in mice where a mutation lacks a certain group of microRNAs, the expression of the SYR gene is delayed and, consequently, the ovarian and testicular development, which eventually develops as an ovary, begins simultaneously.

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