Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism in subjects with DAX1 mutations

Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.
Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology (Impact Factor: 4.24). 06/2011; 346(1-2):65-73. DOI: 10.1016/j.mce.2011.04.017
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT DAX1 (dosage-sensitive sex reversal, adrenal hypoplasia critical region, on chromosome X, gene 1; also known as NROB1, nuclear receptor subfamily 0, group B, member 1) encodes a nuclear receptor that is expressed in embryonic stem (ES) cells, steroidogenic tissues (gonads, adrenals), the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH), and pituitary gonadotropes. Humans with DAX1 mutations develop an X-linked syndrome referred to as adrenal hypoplasia congenita (AHC). These boys typically present in infancy with adrenal failure but later fail to undergo puberty because of hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (HHG). The adrenal failure reflects a developmental abnormality in the transition of the fetal to adult zone, resulting in glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid deficiency. The etiology of HHG involves a combined and variable deficiency of hypothalamic GnRH secretion and/or pituitary responsiveness to GnRH resulting in low LH, FSH and testosterone. Treatment with exogenous gonadotropins generally does not induce spermatogenesis. Animal models indicate that DAX1 also plays a critical role in testis development and function. As a nuclear receptor, DAX1 has been shown to function as a transcriptional repressor, particularly of pathways regulated by other nuclear receptors, such as steroidogenic factor 1 (SF1). In addition to reproductive tissues, DAX1 is also expressed at high levels in ES cells and plays a role in the maintenance of pluripotentiality. Here we review the clinical manifestations associated with DAX1 mutations as well as the evolving information about its function based on animal models and in vitro studies.

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