Comparative transcriptome profiling and characterization of gene expression for ovarian differentiation under RU486 treatment

Shaohua Sun, Jing Cai, Wenjing Tao, Limin Wu, Chakraborty Tapas, Linyan Zhou, Deshou Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


17α, 20β-dihydroxypregn-4-en-3-one (17α, 20β-DP, DHP), a teleost specific biologically active progestin, has been proved to play a critical role in oocytes maturation, ovulation and spermiation. RU486 (Mifepristone, an antagonist of progestin receptor) has been applied in contraceptives, abortion and hormone therapy in clinical medicine. To get further insights into the molecular mechanisms of nuclear progestin receptor (Pgr) activated ovarian differentiation and maintenance, we conducted comparative gonadal transcriptome analysis, and investigated histological and transcriptional differences using 4 months after hatching (mah) RU486-treated XX and control XX/XY Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus). DESeq analysis identified 7148 DEGs (differentially expressed genes) between RU486-treated and control XX gonads, while merely 442 DEGs were screened between the gonads of RU486-treated XX and control XY fish highlighting that RU486 treatment set forwards masculinity in XX fish. Comprehensive analysis of gene hierarchical clustering revealed that RU486 treatment in XX fish resulted in robust changes of gene expression profiles. In comparison with XX group, female-dominant genes were significantly repressed in RU486 treated XX fish gonads. Moreover, most parts of down-regulated genes in wild type female were evidently up-regulated genes in RU486-treated XX fish gonads. Comparing with control XY group, the majority of male-dominant genes represent a high level of expression. However, RU486-treatment led to an up-regulation of a cluster genes specifically which showed relative lower expression in both control XX and XY group. RU486-treatment mediated global changes of gene expression profiles in steroidogenesis, germ cell differentiation and follicular cell trans-differentiation were verified by quantitative PCR. Both morphological and immunohistochemistry results further proved that RU486 treatment initiates testicular-like gonads development in XX fish via simultaneously enhancing the male responsive genes and suppressing the female-dominant genes. Moreover, RU486 treatment caused significant decline of fshr, lhr and increase of ars. Taken together, our data confirms blocking of DHP physiology by RU486 treatment induces masculinization in XX gonad preferably via repressing of gonadotropin physiology, germ cell differentiation and promoting follicular trans-differentiation in teleosts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-173
Number of pages8
JournalGeneral and Comparative Endocrinology
Publication statusPublished - May 15 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Endocrinology


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