The human genetic disorder adrenal hypoplasia congenita with hypogonadotropic hypogonadism results from mutations in the recently isolated DAX-1 gene, a member of the nuclear hormone receptor superfamily. To study the role of DAX-1 in adrenal development and activation of the hypothalamic pituitary-gonadal axis, animal model systems will be essential. Here, we report the isolation and characterization of the mouse DAX-1 gene and its tissue-specific pattern of expression. The mouse DAX-1 gene codes for a 472- amino acid protein, with 75% overall nucleotide sequence homology to its human homolog. The 3.5 amino-terminal repeats of a unique motif with probable DNA-binding activity have been conserved between mouse and human, although highest conservation in the DAX-1 peptide exists in the carboxy-terminal ligand-binding domain. The DAX-1 gene remains X-linked in the mouse, consistent with its potential role in sex determination. We have developed a sensitive reverse transcription-PCR assay that detects DAX-1 messenger RNA in the central nervous system, pituitary, lung, heart, spleen, kidney, and thymus in addition to the adrenal and testis DAX-1 expression noted for the human DAX-1 gene. Future studies using mouse models of altered DAX-1 expression will be critical in defining the role of this factor in tissue- and development-specific gene regulation.
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