Sex-related changes in estrogen receptors and aromatase gene expression and enzymatic activity during early development and sex differentiation in the European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax)

TitleSex-related changes in estrogen receptors and aromatase gene expression and enzymatic activity during early development and sex differentiation in the European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsBlázquez, M, González A, Papadaki M, Mylonas C, Piferrer F
JournalGeneral and Comparative Endocrinology
Volume158
Issue1
Pages95 - 101
KeywordsAromatase, cyp19, Dicentrarchus labrax, Estrogen receptors, Estrogens, Sea bass, Sex differentiation
Abstract

The present study addresses the role of aromatase and estrogen receptors in sex differentiation and development. With this purpose, a sea bass female- and a male-dominant group were obtained by successive size gradings since in this species females are already larger than males at the time of sex differentiation. Changes in cyp19a and cyp19b gene expression and enzymatic activity were monitored by a validated real-time PCR and a tritiated water assay, respectively, during early development and sex differentiation. Changes in mRNA expression of estrogen receptors, both erb1 and erb2, were also assessed during this period. Results show clear sex-related differences in cyp19a gene expression and enzymatic activity in gonads, with females exhibiting significantly higher levels than males at 150 days post hatching (DPH), when histological signs of sex differentiation were evident. cyp19b gene expression and activity in brain were detectable during early ontogenesis at 50 DPH but no clear sex-related differences were observed. Both erb1 and erb2 showed higher gene expression levels in testis than in ovaries around 200-250 DPH, corresponding with the time of testicular differentiation and precocious male maturation, but no sex-related differences were found in the brain. Together these results indicate that in the European sea bass high expression levels of cyp19a are associated with ovarian differentiation and thus cyp19a can be considered as a suitable molecular marker of ovarian differentiation. However, the involvement of cyp19b in sex differentiation cannot be concluded. In addition, the higher levels of erb1 and erb2 in males versus females during sex differentiation, coinciding with precocious male maturation in the sea bass, suggest an important role for these receptors in testicular development and maturation. © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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