Clinical and genetic characteristics of a large international cohort of individuals with rare NR5A1/SF-1 variants of sex development

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Background: Steroidogenic factor 1 (SF-1/NR5A1) is essential for human sex development. Heterozygous NR5A1/SF-1 variants manifest with a broad range of phenotypes of differences of sex development (DSD), which remain unexplained. Methods: We conducted a retrospective analysis on the so far largest international cohort of individuals with NR5A1/SF-1 variants, identified through the I-DSD registry and a research network. Findings: Among 197 individuals with NR5A1/SF-1 variants, we confirmed diverse phenotypes. Over 70% of 46, XY individuals had a severe DSD phenotype, while 90% of 46, XX individuals had female-typical sex development. Close to 100 different novel and known NR5A1/SF-1 variants were identified, without specific hot spots. Additionally, likely disease-associated variants in other genes were reported in 32 individuals out of 128 tested (25%), particularly in those with severe or opposite sex DSD phenotypes. Interestingly, 48% of these variants were found in known DSD or SF-1 interacting genes, but no frequent gene-clusters were identified. Sex registration at birth varied, with <10% undergoing reassignment. Gonadectomy was performed in 30% and genital surgery in 58%. Associated organ anomalies were observed in 27% of individuals with a DSD, mainly concerning the spleen. Intrafamilial phenotypes also varied considerably. Interpretation: The observed phenotypic variability in individuals and families with NR5A1/SF-1 variants is large and remains unpredictable. It may often not be solely explained by the monogenic pathogenicity of the NR5A1/SF-1 variants but is likely influenced by additional genetic variants and as-yet-unknown factors. Funding: Swiss National Science Foundation (320030-197725) and Boveri Foundation Zürich, Switzerland.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number104941
StatePublished - Jan 2024

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  • Broad phenotype
  • Differences of sex development (DSD)
  • Genetics of sex determination and differentiation
  • Intersex
  • Steroidogenic factor 1 (SF-1/NR5A1)


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