Congenital anomalies of the lower genitourinary (LGU) tract are frequently comorbid due to genetically linked developmental pathways, and are among the most common yet most socially stigmatized congenital phenotypes. Genes involved in sexual differentiation are prime candidates for developmental anomalies of multiple LGU organs, but insufficient prospective screening tools have prevented the rapid identification of causative genes. Androgen signaling is among the most influential modulators of LGU development. The present study uses SpDamID technology in vivo to generate a comprehensive map of the pathways actively regulated by the androgen receptor (AR) in the genitalia in the presence of the p300 coactivator, identifying wingless/integrated (WNT) signaling as a highly enriched AR-regulated pathway in the genitalia. Transcription factor (TF) hits were then assayed for sexually dimorphic expression at two critical time points and also cross-referenced to a database of clinically relevant copy number variations to identify 252 TFs exhibiting copy variation in patients with LGU phenotypes. A subset of 54 TFs was identified for which LGU phenotypes are statistically overrepresented as a proportion of total observed phenotypes. The 252 TF hitlist was then subjected to a functional screen to identify hits whose silencing affects genital mesenchymal growth rates. Overlap of these datasets results in a refined list of 133 TFs of both functional and clinical relevance to LGU development, 31 of which are top priority candidates, including the well-documented renal progenitor regulator, Sall1. Loss of Sall1 was examined in vivo and confirmed to be a powerful regulator of LGU development.

Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2024


  • Sall1
  • SpDamID
  • androgen receptor
  • genitalia development


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