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Environ Sci Technol. 2012 Jul 17;46(14):7763-71. doi: 10.1021/es301132b. Epub 2012 Jul 3.

5S rRNA and accompanying proteins in gonads: powerful markers to identify sex and reproductive endocrine disruption in fish.

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Laboratory of Cell Biology and Histology, Department of Zoology and Animal Cell Biology, School of Science and Technology, University of the Basque Country, Po Box 644, E-48080, Bilbao, Basque Country.


In anuran ovaries, 5S rDNA is regulated transcriptionally by transcription factor IIIA (TFIIIA), which upon transcription, binds 5S rRNA, forming 7S RNP. 5S rRNA can be stockpiled also in the form of 42S RNP bound to 42sp43. The aim of the present study was to assess the differential transcriptional regulation of 5S rRNA and associated proteins in thicklip gray mullet (Chelon labrosus) gonads. Up to 75% of the total RNA from mullet ovaries was 5S rRNA. qPCR quantification of 5S rRNA expression, in gonads of histologically sexed individuals from different geographical areas, successfully sexed animals. All males had expression levels that were orders of magnitude below expression levels in females, throughout an annual reproductive cycle, with the exception of two individuals: one in November and one in December. Moreover, intersex mullets from a polluted harbor had expression levels between both sexes. TFIIIA and 42sp43 were also very active transcriptionally in gonads of female and intersex mullets, in comparison to males. Nucleocytoplasmatic transport is important in this context and we also analyzed transcriptional levels of importins-α1, -α2, and -β2 and different exportins. Importin-αs behaved similarly to 5S rRNA. Thus, 5S rRNA and associated proteins constitute very powerful molecular markers of sex and effects of xenosterogens in fish gonads, with potential technological applications in the analysis of fish stock dynamics and reproduction as well as in environmental health assessment.

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