Sexual development in marsupials

Genetic characterization of bandicoot siblings with scrotal and testicular maldevelopment

Catherine M. Watson, R. Leon Hughes, Desmond W. Cooper, Robert T. Gemmell, David A. F. Loebel, Peter G. Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


In marsupials testis determination requires the presence of a Y chromosome. The sex determining region on the Y gene (SRY) is necessary for testicular development in eutherians and it is assumed to play a similar role in marsupials. Relatively few studies have investigated the genetic basis of sexual development, and as yet there is no direct evidence that SRY is required for testis development in marsupials. Studies on intersexual marsupials have revealed a fundamental difference between marsupial and eutherian sex determination. The scrotum of marsupials is analogous, not homologous, to the eutherian scrotum and is under the control of X-linked genes not androgens. The current study describes two bandicoot (Isoodon macrourus) siblings. Both siblings had underdeveloped male reproductive tracts and testicular dysgenesis, one was ascrotal and the other had a diminutive scrotum. Their karyotypes were normal for this species which eliminates the Y chromosome from some somatic tissues. SRY was detected by Southern blotting. SRY, ubiquitin activating enzyme-1 on the Y (UBE1Y) and glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) gene expression were examined. UBE1Y was widely expressed in many tissues. SRY gene expression was much lower than normal in the abnormal siblings and may be responsible for their failure of testicular and epididymal development. The cause of their scrotal abnormalities is unknown. It is possible that the separate defects of scrotal and testis development in the two siblings, which had normal relatives, were due to a mutation in a gene common to both developmental pathways.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-134
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Reproduction and Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • Sex determination
  • SRY
  • UBE1Y

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Sexual development in marsupials: Genetic characterization of bandicoot siblings with scrotal and testicular maldevelopment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this