Him, Himself and He: Defining Masculinity



Without intervention, all human embryos are destined to become females! Early in embryonic life there is a single sex organ known as the indifferent gonad, which is capable of defaulting as an ovary (with no SrY gene present), or a testis (with SrY). Likewise, in embryonic life, two structures are formed: the Wolfian and the Müllerian ducts. The Müllerian duct, if nothing intervenes, will become the female internal reproductive organs, the fallopian tubes and uterus. If a testis is formed, it produces a substance known as Müllerian Inhibitory factor or anti-Müllerian hormone, causing the Müllerian Ducts to dissolve.

Left on its own, the Wolfian duct will dissolve. If SrY is present, the testis makes testosterone. The testosterone supports the Wolfian ducts that become the male internal sex organs: vas deferens, epididymis and prostate. Testosterone is also converted into Dehydrotestosterone (steroid 5-alphareductase enzyme, used in this installation), which acts on the external genitalia to produce a scrotum and penis.

In testicular feminization (a female by appearance, but XY genetically) the Androgen Receptors for Dihydrotestosterone are defective. Hence, the Müllerian ducts are absent due to the presence of Müllerian inhibitory factor, but there are no internal or external male organs, as the Dihydrotestosterone present does not affect the Wolfian duct structures nor the external genitalia because these tissues lack the receptors for it. Yet another steroid, the 21-hydroxylase gene, when deficient, causes virilization of female fetuses. Thus, it is known as the Hermaphrodite Gene.

(Explanation provided by Dr. Charles Strom, formerly Director of Genetics at Illinois Masonic Hospital, Chicago; now Director of Medical Genetics and Molecular Biology at Quest Diagnostics, San Juan Capistrano, California.)


DNA Music Process:
The physio-musical conversion of DNA sequences takes place via a series of formulae that were worked out in a manner based on physical properties of DNA and musical parameters. This could not have been possible without the assistance of my friend and collaborator, geneticist Charles Strom (M.D, Ph.D), who provided me with the genomes and information regarding the chemical makeup of DNA and the amino acid conversion. Once the sequences are converted by the custom algorithms, the DNA Mixer (which reads linearly, much like the ribosomes traverse the mRNA, and mixes multiple sequences just like our cells) can output them directly as digital sound, or as music notation for instrumental performance. -- P. Gena


User Options:
1. Play a gene sequence from the list on the right by clicking on it's name.
2. Make up your own combinations by clicking the "User Mix" box on the list. Choose each sequence by a click and drag on the pop up menus at the top of each channel you wish to use. You can then set each "init ribo" box to the position that you wish to start the corresponding sequence. Enable the "On/Off" boxes for each channel that you chose. Set a tempo with the slider, and press Play.


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