Cis-Regulatory Control of Mammalian Sex Determination

Meshi Ridnik, Stefan Schoenfelder, Nitzan Gonen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Sex determination is the process by which an initial bipotential gonad adopts either a testicular or ovarian cell fate. The inability to properly complete this process leads to a group of developmental disorders classified as disorders of sex development (DSD). To date, dozens of genes were shown to play roles in mammalian sex determination, and mutations in these genes can cause DSD in humans or gonadal sex reversal/dysfunction in mice. However, exome sequencing currently provides genetic diagnosis for only less than half of DSD patients. This points towards a major role for the non-coding genome during sex determination. In this review, we highlight recent advances in our understanding of non-coding, cis-acting gene regulatory elements and discuss how they may control transcriptional programmes that underpin sex determination in the context of the 3-dimensional folding of chromatin. As a paradigm, we focus on the Sox9 gene, a prominent pro-male factor and one of the most extensively studied genes in gonadal cell fate determination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-334
Number of pages18
JournalSexual Development
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - 28 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by S. Karger AG, Basel.


  • 3D genome organisation
  • DSD
  • Enhancers
  • Ovary
  • Regulatory elements
  • Sex determination
  • Sox9
  • TAD
  • Testis


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