[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sexual development prior to gonadal sex differentiation is regulated by various molecular mechanisms. In fish, a "molecular sex-differentiation period" has been identified in species for which sex can be ascertained prior to gonadal sex differentiation. The present study was designed to identify such a period in a species for which no genetic sex markers or monosex populations are available. Siberian sturgeons undergo a slow sex-differentiation process over several months, so gonad morphology and gene expression was tracked in fish from ages 3-27 months to identify the sex-differentiation period. The genes amh, sox9, and dmrt1 were selected as male gonad markers; cyp19a1a and foxl2a as female gonad markers; and cyp17a1 and ar as markers of steroid synthesis and steroid receptivity. Sex differentiation occurred at 8 months, and was preceded by a molecular sex-differentiation period at 3-4 months, at which time all of the genes except ar showed clear expression peaks. amh and sox9 expression seemed to be involved in male sexual development whereas dmrt1, a gene involved in testis development in metazoans, unexpectedly showed a pattern similar to those of the genes known to be involved in female gonadal sex differentiation (cyp19a1 and foxl2a). In conclusion, the timing of and gene candidates involved with molecular sex differentiation in the Siberian sturgeon were identified. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · Molecular Reproduction and Development
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The molecular mechanisms underlying testis differentiation in basal actinopterygian fish remains poorly understood. The sex differentiation period was investigated in the Siberian sturgeon, Acipenser baerii, by expression profiling of Sertoli cell transcription factors (dmrt1, sox9) that control testis differentiation in vertebrates; Leydig cell factors (cyp17a1, star) affecting androgen production; the androgen receptor (ar); a growth factor controlling testis development (igf1); and a gene coding for a gonadotropin hormone (lh). Two genes were characterised for the first time in the Siberian sturgeon (dmrt1, cyp17a1), while the others came from public databases. Sturgeon gonad development is very slow, with a late sexual differentiation time during their juvenile stage, and are still immature at 3 years of age. Immature fish showed a sex-dimorphic pattern; all the genes studied displayed a higher expression level in male gonads. We took advantage of the presence of juvenile fish with pre- and post-differentiated gonads (16 and 18 months old) to characterise them at the molecular level. The post-differentiated fish displayed a sex dimorphism of gene expression in their gonads for all genes studied, with the exception of sox9. The trends in undifferentiated fish lead us to propose that sturgeons undergoing male differentiation express high levels of Sertoli cell factors (dmrt1, sox9) and of genes involved in the production and receptivity of androgens (cyp17a1, star and ar) together with lh. Expression profiles and phylogenetic studies suggest that these genes are potential regulators of testis development in the Siberian sturgeon.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2012 · Molecular Reproduction and Development
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The sex differentiation period of the Siberian sturgeon was investigated through expression profiling of two testicular markers (dmrt1 and sox9). At the molecular level, a clear sexual dimorphism of dmrt1 and sox9 was observed in 3-year-old fish with immature gonads, in which males showed higher expression of these genes. Among 16-month-old sturgeons cultured in Uruguay, gonad morphology analyses showed one group of fish with undifferentiated gonads and a second group which had started their histological differentiation into ovaries or testes. dmrt1 showed a significantly higher expression in testes of recently differentiated fish, but this was not the case for sox9. In undifferentiated fish, we observed two clearly different groups in terms of expression: one group of fish over-expressing male markers (dmrt1, sox9) and another group of fish showing very low expression of these genes. This suggests that fish undergoing male differentiation can be identified by their profiles of gene expression before they undergo morphological differentiation.
Full-text · Article · Jun 2012 · Fish Physiology and Biochemistry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The involvement of androgens during sex differentiation period was investigated in the pejerrey Odontesthes bonariensis, by classic biochemical studies and gonadal histology. We studied in particular whether the enzyme activities involved in 11-oxygenated androgen production were active in a gonadal/peritoneum complex (GPC) of very small larvae exposed to masculinizing temperatures previous to morphological sex differentiation (5 weeks post-hatching). The GPC was incubated with 17-hydroxyprogesterone ((3)H-17P), and the presence of 11-KT as major metabolite in early gonads undergoing masculine pathway after temperature treatment exposure is reported. 11-KT was identified by thin-layer chromatography and high-pressure liquid chromatography. The present results show that 11-KT is produced at very early stages of testis development in pejerrey, being this androgen one of the main mediators of the masculinization induced by temperature treatment at the gonad level.
Full-text · Article · May 2012 · Fish Physiology and Biochemistry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Using genetic monosex male and female rainbow trout populations, the potential sex differences in the central expression of estrogen receptors (esr1, esr2a, esr2b), brain aromatase (cyp19a1b) and some other steroidogenic enzymes was studied over the period of sex differentiation (from 35 to 63 dpf: days post-fertilization) using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (q-PCR). In addition, aromatase activity was evaluated during this period. The results indicated that brain aromatase (cyp19a1b) expression and activity showed a clear and significant sexually dimorphic pattern with higher levels in male brain between 35 and 53 dpf before the time of gonad morphological differentiation. At that time the expression of a key enzyme involved in the conversion of cholesterol into steroids, the cyp11a1 (p450scc), as well as the estrogen receptors were also sexually dimorphic. The dimorphism was lost from 56 dpf onwards. Transcription factors such as nr5a1b (sf1) and nr0b1 (dax1), but not foxl2a were also higher in males than in females. These results demonstrate that, before or during the early period of morphological gonad differentiation, the brain exhibits a clear sexual dimorphism with respect to the expression and activity of aromatase as well as of certain enzymes and factors involved in steroid synthesis as p450scc and sf1. The results suggest a higher potentiality to produce estrogens by male brains during sex differentiation time.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2010 · General and Comparative Endocrinology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sex steroids are known to be involved in gonadal differentiation in fish, but whether androgens are early mediators of testis differentiation remains unclear. We studied the sex-related developmental variations in the gene expression of two key enzymes involved in steroids and androgen synthesis (cyp11a1 and cyp11b1) in trunks and isolated gonads of pejerrey (Odontesthes bonariensis) larvae during and after the sex determination period. Also, and in order to have a better characterization of this process we studied the expression of Sertoli (dmrt1, amh, sox9) and Leydig (nr5a1 or sf-1) cell markers as well as a gene with higher expression in females (cyp19a1a). No clear differences were observed in the expression of cyp11a1 and cyp11b1 during the temperature-sensitive window in the trunk of pejerrey larvae. Nevertheless, a clear increase of cyp11b1 was observed in isolated gonads taken from fish reared at the male producing temperature. In these gonads we also confirmed the trends of genes with higher expression in males (dmrt1, amh) and females (cyp19a1a) as previously described in larval trunks of pejerrey. Our results showed that the expression of cyp11b1 was positively associated with the morphological differentiation of the testis. Nevertheless the involvement of 11-oxygenated androgens during the temperature-sensitive window could not be clearly established.
Full-text · Article · May 2010 · Comparative biochemistry and physiology. Part A, Molecular & integrative physiology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In non-mammalian vertebrates, estrogens are key players in ovarian differentiation, but the mechanisms by which they act remain poorly understood. The present study on rainbow trout was designed to investigate whether estrogens trigger the female pathway by activating a group of early female genes (i.e. cyp19a1, foxl2a, foxl2b, fst, bmp4, and fshb) and by repressing early testicular markers (i.e. dmrt1, nr0b1, sox9a1 and sox9a2). Feminization was induced in genetically all-male populations using 17alpha-ethynylestradiol (EE2, 20 mg/kg of food during 2 months). The expression profiles of 100 candidate genes were obtained by real-time RT-PCR and 45 expression profiles displayed a significant differential expression between control populations (males and females) and EE2-treated populations. These expression profiles were grouped in five temporally correlated expression clusters. The estrogen treatment induced most of the early ovarian differentiation genes (foxl2a, foxl2b, fst, bmp4, and fshb) and in particular foxl2a, which was strongly and quickly up-regulated. Simultaneously, Leydig cell genes, involved in androgen synthesis, as well as some Sertoli cell markers (amh, sox9a2) were strongly repressed. However, in contrast to our initial hypothesis, some genes considered as essential for mammalian and fish testis differentiation were not suppressed during the early process of estrogen-induced feminization (dmrt1, nr0b1, sox9a1 and pax2a) and some were even strongly up-regulated (nr0b1, sox9a1and pax2a). In conclusion, estrogens trigger male-to-female transdifferentiation by up-regulating most ovarian specific genes and this up-regulation appears to be crucial for an effective feminization, but estrogens do not concomitantly down-regulate all the testicular differentiation markers.