Friday, 11 December 2009

Hope and Change

Somatic Sex Reprogramming of Adult Ovaries to Testes by FOXL2 Ablation by Uhlenhaut et al, Cell, Volume 139, Issue 6, 1130-1142, 11 December 2009:
In mammals, the transcription factor SRY, encoded by the Y chromosome, is normally responsible for triggering the indifferent gonads to develop as testes rather than ovaries. However, testis differentiation can occur in its absence. Here we demonstrate in the mouse that a single factor, the forkhead transcriptional regulator FOXL2, is required to prevent transdifferentiation of an adult ovary to a testis. Inducible deletion of Foxl2 in adult ovarian follicles leads to immediate upregulation of testis-specific genes including the critical SRY target gene Sox9. Concordantly, reprogramming of granulosa and theca cell lineages into Sertoli-like and Leydig-like cell lineages occurs with testosterone levels comparable to those of normal XY male littermates. Our results show that maintenance of the ovarian phenotype is an active process throughout life. They might also have important medical implications for the understanding and treatment of some disorders of sexual development in children and premature menopause in women
It also gives hope to Trans men that they may be able to father children one day. We're still at a very early stage yet, what works on mice my not work on men, and the testes may require other factors to become functional, but there's real hope. Hope that the guys will be able to change their ovaries into functional testes.

There's still the problem of the, um, er, delivery system to be sorted out. That will require additional work, probably with stem cells building erectile tissue. But one of those isn't necessary to become a father - I know, from personal experience.

This research may possibly open up a whole new field. The ability to correct sex when the neurology is anomalous. Possibly for women too.

I have a dream... that possibly within my lifetime, a girl born trans will be able to give birth, as her instincts and neurology scream that she should. As mine does too, even now. Not this incarnation though. Besides, I have a son, and the exact process isn't important, it's the result.

Trans women may in many cases exhibit almost stereotyped female thought patterns, far more so than the standard factory model female. I think that that's because they have to be more strongly gendered than average to even attempt transition, or it may be an artifact of the high hormone levels some require. Or both.


Sara said...

Ah, but would insurance cover it?

Also the implications to some Christian beliefs are enough to create head shrapnel in the chapel. Think about it from their point of view: if two married Christians are able to produce a child using their own gametes, regardless of "delivery system", are they still to be considered abominations?

Further, doesn't this clear the final Biological hurdle of defining male and female, that of large vs small gametes?

I'm sure there are many more implications...

RadarGrrl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zoe Brain said...

Choke on it - the ones consumed with hatred.
Not everyone on the Religious Right is, you know. Not quite.

Anonymous said...

A lighter note: , about a small bird who believes in the binary divide. Figures only in view of your time shortage.
Pocket scientist

Anonymous said...

From what I've read, the new testicular tissue doesn't create sperm, but does produce natal male levels of testosterone. Sperm would be nice, but a life without injections (or cremes, pellets, or patches), with levels of testosterone that are situationally appropriate, and no fears about any future inability to access hormone therapy? Sign me up.

Anonymous said...

Good news for FTM. It would be nice for our FTM brothers if they didn't have to take medications and could rely on nature. I hope they figure out how to reverse the virilization of gonad tissue, that would help us MTF's.