Sex is determined genetically in amphibians, but is reversed occasionally by steroid hormones. The phenotypic sex of some amphibian species can be reversed from male to female by estrogens. Estrogens, which are synthesized from testosterone irreversibly by the enzyme P450 aromatase (CYP19), are essential for ovarian development in vertebrates. CYP19 expression is reportedly regulated by steroidogenic factor-1 (SF-1), also designated as Ad4BP, in fish and mammals. However, it is unknown if this is also the case in amphibians. Thus, to elucidate the role of SF-1 in CYP19 gene expression in the gonad of amphibians, it is necessary to isolate and characterize the promoter region of the CYP19 gene of amphibians. For this purpose, we first cloned the promoter region of CYP19 from genomic DNA fragments of the frog Rana rugosa. As a result, a potential binding site of SF-1 was found in the region. When a luciferase promoter assay in HEK 293 cells was carried out to examine the ability of SF-1 as a transcriptional regulator, we found that R. rugosa SF-1 stimulated the expression of the CYP19 gene of the tilapia Oreochromis niloticus, but not that of the frogs R. rugosa and Xenopus laevis. RT-PCR analysis revealed that CYP19 mRNA was expressed at a higher level in the indifferent gonads of females than in those of males. This was also true to SF-1 mRNA In addition, FISH analysis showed that the CYP19 gene was located on chromosome 3 of R. rugosa. Taken together, our data suggest that CYP19, an autosomal gene, is expressed in the undifferentiated gonads to an extent greater in females than in males, but its expression probably is not regulated by SF-1 alone. Another factor(s) may be required if SF-1 promotes the expression of the CYP19 gene in R. rugosa as it does in fish and mammals.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Animal Science and Zoology