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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2004 Aug 31;223(1-2):63-75.

Cloning, characterisation, and expression of three oestrogen receptors (ERalpha, ERbeta1 and ERbeta2) in the European sea bass, Dicentrarchus labrax.

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  • 1Instituto de Acuicultura de Torre de la Sal, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Ribera de Cabanes, 12595 Torre de la Sal, Spain.


Three oestrogen receptor [ER] subtypes have been described in teleost fish, namely ERalpha, and two ERbeta subtypes, called ERbeta1 and ERbeta2 (or ERbeta and ERgamma in Atlantic croaker). Their expression during embryonic development and gonadal growth has evoked interest in their potential role in sexual differentiation and gonadal development in fish. We cloned three oestrogen receptors from adult liver (sb-ERalpha cDNA) and ovary (partial sb-ERbeta1 and sb-ERbeta2 cDNAs) of the European sea bass, and according to their phylogenetic relatedness to other ERs in teleosts, named them sea bass [sb-] ERalpha, ERbeta1 and ERbeta2. Deduced amino acid numbers for sb-ERalpha, sb-ERbeta1 and sb-ERbeta2 were 639, 517 and 608, respectively, representing in the case of sb-ERbeta1 and sb-ERbeta2 about 90% of the open reading frame. Highest amino acid identities were found for sb-ERalpha with eelpout ERalpha (88.7%), for sb-ERbeta1 with Atlantic croaker ERgamma (85.8%), and for sb-ERbeta2 with Atlantic croaker ERbeta (90.1%). Southern analysis confirmed that all three sea bass oestrogen receptors (sb-ERs) are the products of three distinct genes. In adult sea bass, ERalpha was predominantly expressed in liver and pituitary, while sb-ERbeta1 and sb-ERbeta2 were more ubiquitously expressed, with highest expression levels in pituitary. In a mixed-sex population of juvenile sea bass, sb-ERalpha expression was significantly elevated in gonads at 200 days posthatch (dph), while for sb-ERbeta1 and sb-ERbeta2 highest expression levels were observed in gonads at 250 dph. For sb-ERbeta2, expression was also significantly higher in the brain at 250 dph. The cloning of these three ER subtypes in the European sea bass together with the results obtained on expression levels in adult and juvenile animals has given us the foundation to investigate their possible role in sexual differentiation and development in this species in future studies.

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