Sexual Development

AIS can best be understood against the background of normal human sexual development, which begins in the womb. The gonads arise from the same embryonic tissue, which is differentiated into one or the other by the actions of several genes not involved in AIS. In males, the most important gene is SRY, located on the Y chromosome. When present, this causes testis development. The genes responsible for ovary development are not as well characterized.

Once differentiated, the ovaries produce estrogen, and testes produce testosterone. These two hormones provide crucial signals for the differentiation of other sex-related characteristics, including an important set of primitive ducts.

The tubes and cavities that will house the adult's eggs or sperm after they leave the gonads develop from two different sets of ducts. Early in development, every fetus has both sets of ducts. One set, called the Wolffian ducts, has the capacity to develop into the male vas deferens and accessory gonads testes or ovaries

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