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Mech Dev. 2004 Jul;121(7-8):997-1005.

Developmentally regulated and non-sex-specific expression of autosomal dmrt genes in embryos of the Medaka fish (Oryzias latipes).

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Department of Physiological Chemistry I, Biocenter, University of Wuerzburg, Wuerzburg, Germany.


The dmrtgene family of vertebrates comprises several transcription factors that share a highly conserved DNA-binding domain, the DM domain. Like some of their invertebrate counterparts, e.g. Drosophila doublesex (dsx) and the Caenorhabditis elegans Mab3, several are implicated in sex determination and differentiation. Thus far, dmrt genes represent the only factors involved in sexual development that are conserved across phyla. In the teleost Medaka (Oryzias latipes), a duplicated copy of dmrt1, designated dmrt1bY or dmy, has recently been postulated to be the master regulator of male development in this species. Here, we have analyzed the expression of four additional Medaka dmrt genes during embryonic and larval development. In contrast to other vertebrates, the autosomally located dmrt1a gene of Medaka is not expressed at detectable levels during embryogenesis. On the other hand, dmrt2, dmrt3 and dmrt4 show highly restricted and non-overlapping expression patterns during embryogenesis. While dmrt2 is expressed in early somites, dmrt3 transcripts are found in dorsal interneurons and dmrt4 is expressed in the developing olfactory system. Other than in mouse, they do not show any sex specific expression and no transcription could be detected in the early developing gonads. However, all four analyzed dmrt genes share expression in the differentiating gonad of larvae and in adult testis.

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