When the Y chromosome of Mus musculus domesticus (YDOM) was introduced onto the C57BL/6 (B6) mouse background, half of the XY progeny (B6.YDOM) developed bilateral ovaries and female internal and external genitalia. We examined the fertility of the B6.YDOM sex-reversed female mouse. The chromosomal sex of the individual mouse was identified by dot hybridization with mouse Y chromosome-specific DNA probes. The results indicated that all XY females lacked regular estrous cyclicity although most were able to mate and ovulate after treatment with gonadotropins. When they had been ovariectomized and grafted with ovaries from the XX female litter mate, they initiated estrous cyclicity. Reciprocally, the XX female that had received XY ovarian grafts did not resume estrous cyclicity. Development of the XY ovary was morphologically comparable to the XX ovary until 16 day of gestation (d.g.), when most germ cells had reached the zygotene or pachytene stage of meiotic prophase. However, by the day of delivery (19 or 20 d.g.), no oocyte remained in the medullary cords of the XY ovary. In the control XX ovary, the first generation of follicles developed in the medullary region, and 5 delta-3 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3 beta-HSDH) activity appeared first in the stromal cells around growing follicles by 10 days after birth. In contrast, in the XY ovary, follicles were not formed in the medullary region, and 3 beta-HSDH activity appeared in epithelial cells of the oocyte-free medullary cords. Primordial follicles in the cortex region continued development in both the XX and XY ovaries. These results suggest that the XY female is infertile due to a defect inside the XY ovary. The prenatal loss of oocytes in the medullary cords may be a key event leading to abnormal endocrine function, and thereby, the absence of estrous cyclicity.

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