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Endocrinology. 2001 Feb;142(2):740-50.

Distinct cytochrome P450 aromatase isoforms in zebrafish (Danio rerio) brain and ovary are differentially programmed and estrogen regulated during early development.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.


As a first step toward understanding estrogen's role in neurodevelopment, a PCR cloning strategy was used to isolate complementary DNAs encoding two distinct cytochrome P450 aromatase isoforms in adult zebrafish (Danio rerio) brain and ovary (termed P450aromB and P450aromA, respectively). Sequence and phylogenetic analysis showed that the zebrafish P450arom forms are orthologs of previously identified cyp19b and cyp19a genes in goldfish. On Northern blots, a single 4.4-kb transcript of the P450aromB subtype was identified in brain, and a 2.1-kb transcript of the P450aromA subtype in ovary, but RT-PCR showed a degree of overlapping expression. Both messenger RNA (mRNA) forms were detected in unfertilized eggs and 1.5 hpf (cleavage stage) embryos but declined by 12 hpf, indicating maternal transfer. A secondary rise in mRNAs between 12-24 hpf indicated the onset of embryonic cyp19b and -a transcription. Both mRNA species accumulated progressively to 120 hpf (early larval stage), but the relative magnitude and pattern of change was isoform specific. Estradiol (E(2,) 1 microM) advanced and amplified the developmentally programmed accumulation of P450aromB mRNA, and ICI164.384 decreased expressed levels, implying blockade of an endogenous estrogen mediated regulatory component. Conversely, E(2) had no effect or decreased P450aromA mRNA. The early embryonic expression of P450aromB and P450aromA isoforms, and differences in developmental programming and estrogen regulation, imply independent regulatory mechanisms and unique functions during major morphogenetic and differentiative events.

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