Vicki Meyers-Wallen, VMD, PhD, Diplomate ACT
Associate Professor of Genetics and Reproduction
Laboratory for the Study of Inherited Canine Reproductive Diseases
We are studying animal models of inherited human disorders as a means to understand sex determination and differentiation at the molecular level. By studying systems in which abnormal sexual differentiation occurs, we hope to identify specific genes that are necessary to normal differentiation.
Currently, we are investigating the genetic etiology of three disorders of male sexual differentiation. The first is XX Sex Reversal, which occurs in humans and dogs. Affected individuals do not have a Y chromosome: the karyotypes of affected individuals are the same as those of normal females. However, affected individuals develop testicular tissue. We are interested in isolating the autosomal gene that causes this disorder.
A second disorder that we are investigating, which occurs in humans and dogs, is Persistent Mullerian Duct Syndrome (PMDS) in which the oviducts and uterus develop in otherwise normal males. We have identified a mutation in the MIS receptor that is responsible for this abnormality.
A third disorder that we are investigating in collaboration with other investigators is cryptorchidism, which is failure of the testes to descend into the scrotum. Our objective is to find the genes responsible for this disorder in the dog. We are currently collecting DNA samples from cryptorchid males and their parents and grandparents in canine families.
For more information on these, see Inherited Disorders of the Reproductive Tract (side bar).
2010 Research Project on Inherited Equine Infertility: Link to Zweig News Capsule article May 2010. Link to 2010 Zweig funded project, Generation of a molecular resource to identify gene mutations causing inherited equine sterility and infertility.