Steroid deficiencies are diseases affecting salt levels, sugar levels, and sexual differentiation. To study steroid deficiency in more detail, we used a gene-targeting technique to insert a neo gene into the first exon to disrupt Cyp11a1, the first gene in steroid biosynthetic pathways. Cyp11a1 null mice do not synthesize steroids. They die shortly after birth, but can be rescued by steroid injection. Due to the lack of feedback inhibition by glucocorticoid, their circulating ACTH levels are exceedingly high; this results in ectopic Cyp21 gene expression in the testis. Male Cyp11a1 null mice are feminized with female external genitalia and underdeveloped male accessory sex organs. Their testis, epididymis, and vas deferens are present, but undersized. In addition, their adrenals and gonads accumulate excessive amounts of lipid. The lack of steroid production, abnormal gene expression, and aberrant reproductive organ development resemble various steroid deficiency syndromes, making these mice good models for studies of steroid function and regulation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology