Louisa M Ludbrook

Prince Henry's Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Publications (9)34.13 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Human DAX1 duplications cause dosage-sensitive sex reversal (DSS) whereby chromosomally XY individuals can develop as females due to gonadal dysgenesis. However, the mechanism of DSS-adrenal hypoplasia congenita on X, gene 1 (DAX1) action in the fetal testis is unknown. We show that in fetal testes from XY Dax1-overexpressing transgenic mice, the expression of the key testis-promoting gene sex-determining region on Y (SRY)-box-9 (Sox9) is reduced. Moreover, in XY Sox9 heterozygotes, in which testis development is usually normal, Dax1 overexpression results in ovotestes, suggesting a DAX1-SOX9 antagonism. The ovarian portion of the XY ovotestes was characterized by expression of the granulosa cell marker, Forkhead box-L2, with complete loss of the Sertoli cell markers, SOX9 and anti-Müllerian hormone, and the Leydig cell marker CYP17A1. However, the expression of SRY and steroidogenic factor-1 (SF1), two key transcriptional regulators of Sox9, was retained in the ovarian portion of the XY ovotestes. Using reporter mice, Dax1 overexpression reduced activation of TES, the testis enhancer of Sox9, indicating that DAX1 might repress Sox9 expression via TES. In cultured cells, increasing levels of DAX1 antagonized SF1-, SF1/SRY-, and SF1/SOX9-mediated activation of TES, due to reduced binding of SF1 to TES, providing a likely mechanism for DSS.
    Endocrinology 01/2012; 153(4):1948-58. · 4.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In human embryogenesis, loss of SRY (sex determining region on Y), SOX9 (SRY-related HMG box 9) or SF1 (steroidogenic factor 1) function causes disorders of sex development (DSD). A defining event of vertebrate sex determination is male-specific upregulation and maintenance of SOX9 expression in gonadal pre-Sertoli cells, which is preceded by transient SRY expression in mammals. In mice, Sox9 regulation is under the transcriptional control of SRY, SF1 and SOX9 via a conserved testis-specific enhancer of Sox9 (TES). Regulation of SOX9 in human sex determination is however poorly understood. We show that a human embryonal carcinoma cell line (NT2/D1) can model events in presumptive Sertoli cells that initiate human sex determination. SRY associates with transcriptionally active chromatin in NT2/D1 cells and over-expression increases endogenous SOX9 expression. SRY and SF1 co-operate to activate the human SOX9 homologous TES (hTES), a process dependent on phosphorylated SF1. SOX9 also activates hTES, augmented by SF1, suggesting a mechanism for maintenance of SOX9 expression by auto-regulation. Analysis of mutant SRY, SF1 and SOX9 proteins encoded by thirteen separate 46,XY DSD gonadal dysgenesis individuals reveals a reduced ability to activate hTES. We demonstrate how three human sex-determining factors are likely to function during gonadal development around SOX9 as a hub gene, with different genetic causes of 46,XY DSD due a common failure to upregulate SOX9 transcription.
    PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(3):e17751. · 3.73 Impact Factor
  • Louisa Ludbrook, Vincent R Harley
    Advances in experimental medicine and biology 01/2011; 707:87-8. · 1.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mammalian sex determination is a dynamic process involving balanced gene expression leading to the development of either a testis or an ovary. Candidate sex-determining genes have been identified through microarray-based studies of gonadal gene expression; however, few methods exist for validation. This study describes a new technique for transfecting gonads using nucleofection. Fifteen micrograms of expression plasmid DNA was transfected into E11.5 gonads, cultured for 3 days and gene expression analyzed. Following optimization, we consistently achieved cell transfection efficiencies of 11% of cells using pMax-GFP plasmid. To test the applicability of nucleofection to studies of gene function, a testis-determining gene was transfected into gonads and its ability to sex-reverse was examined. When Sry was transfected into female (XX) gonads, upregulation of its target gene Sox9 was observed, as well as a downregulation of the ovarian gene Foxl2. Conversely, when shSox9 was introduced into male (XY) gonads, reduction of Sox9 and its target gene, Amh was observed, with a concomitant upregulation of Foxl2. Nucleofection-based gene delivery can recapitulate in vivo events of gonadal development that demonstrates 'proof-of-principle' of the method as a screening tool to evaluate the cellular function of potential sex-determining and gonadal differentiation genes.
    Sexual Development 01/2011; 5(1):7-15. · 2.22 Impact Factor
  • Reproduction Fertility and Development 08/2009; 21(9):95-95. · 2.58 Impact Factor
  • L. Ludbrook, B. Fisher, V. Harley
    Reproduction Fertility and Development 08/2009; 21(9):85-85. · 2.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mutations in the DAX1 (Dosage-sensitive sex reversal-Adrenal hypoplasia congenita (AHC) critical region on the X chromosome gene 1; NR0B1) cause X-linked AHC, a disease characterized by primary adrenal failure in infancy and hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. All known missense mutations impair DAX1 repression of steroidogenic factor 1 (SF1) transactivation and have been localized to the putative ligand binding domain. Here, an asymptomatic father and his late-onset AHC daughter were both shown to share a novel DAX1 mutation (C200W), the first missense mutation identified in the hinge region of DAX1. Using immunohistochemistry we demonstrate that the sub-cellular localization of the C200W mutant DAX1 protein is shifted from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. The disturbed localization of the C200W mutant in transfected cells correlates with impaired transcriptional repression activity. The import defect is relatively mild, retaining 80% of wild-type activity, which may explain the unusually mild phenotype. Import of DAX1 into the nucleus involves a direct interaction with SF1. In vitro assays demonstrate that the C200W mutant retains the ability to functionally interact with SF1, which suggests that SF1-independent interactions of DAX1 could be responsible for the import defect.
    Molecular Genetics and Metabolism 08/2006; 88(3):272-9. · 2.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The sex-determining region of the Y chromosome (SRY) plays a key role in human sex determination, as mutations in SRY can cause XY sex reversal. Although some SRY missense mutations affect DNA binding and bending activities, it is unclear how others contribute to disease. The high mobility group domain of SRY has two nuclear localization signals (NLS). Sex-reversing mutations in the NLSs affect nuclear import in some patients, associated with defective importin-beta binding to the C-terminal NLS (c-NLS), whereas in others, importin-beta recognition is normal, suggesting the existence of an importin-beta-independent nuclear import pathway. The SRY N-terminal NLS (n-NLS) binds calmodulin (CaM) in vitro, and here we show that this protein interaction is reduced in vivo by calmidazolium, a CaM antagonist. In calmidazolium-treated cells, the dramatic reduction in nuclear entry of SRY and an SRY-c-NLS mutant was not observed for two SRY-n-NLS mutants. Fluorescence spectroscopy studies reveal an unusual conformation of SRY.CaM complexes formed by the two n-NLS mutants. Thus, CaM may be involved directly in SRY nuclear import during gonadal development, and disruption of SRY.CaM recognition could underlie XY sex reversal. Given that the CaM-binding region of SRY is well-conserved among high mobility group box proteins, CaM-dependent nuclear import may underlie additional disease states.
    Molecular Endocrinology 08/2005; 19(7):1884-92. · 4.75 Impact Factor
  • Louisa M Ludbrook, Vincent R Harley
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    ABSTRACT: Traditionally, DAX1 was considered an 'anti-testis' gene because DAX1 duplications in XY individuals cause male-to-female sex reversal: dosage-sensitive sex reversal (DSS). In DSS, two active DAX1 genes on one X chromosome can abrogate testis formation. By contrast, mutations and deletions of DAX1 cause adrenal hypoplasia congenita (AHC). Although AHC patients develop testes, gonadal defects include disorganized testis cords and hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, which is not completely restored with gonadotropin or androgen therapy. Recent evidence of XY sex reversal in Dax1-deficient mice strongly supports a role for Dax1 as a 'pro-testis' gene. Therefore, perhaps DAX1/Dax1 acts within a 'window' of activity, outside of which testis formation does not occur. Here, we discuss the function and possible mechanisms of DAX1 action in male gonadogenesis.
    Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism 05/2004; 15(3):116-21. · 8.90 Impact Factor