Reviews of Reproduction
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Reviews of Reproduction (1999) 4 179-183
© 1999 Society for Reproduction and Fertility
DOI: 10.1530/ror.0.0040179
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Male and female isoenzymes of steroid 5alpha-reductase

MS Mahendroo and DW Russell

There are two steroid 5alpha-reductase isoenzymes, designated type 1 and type 2, in mammals and recent experiments show that each plays a unique physiological role. In this article, the hypothesis is developed that the type 1 gene specifies a female isoenzyme, whereas the type 2 gene specifies a male isoenzyme. This idea results from the following observations. First, mutation of the 5alpha-reductase type 1 gene in mice affects reproduction in females by decreasing fecundity and blocking parturition, but has no effect on reproduction in males. Second, mutation of the 5alpha-reductase type 2 gene in mice and men prevents proper virilization but does not affect development or reproductive function in females. Analyses of these diverse phenotypes indicate that the isoenzymes catalyse both anabolic and catabolic reactions in steroid hormone metabolism.
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