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Biol Reprod. 2017 Aug 1;97(2):324-333. doi: 10.1093/biolre/iox085.

Molecular regulation of sex change induced by methyltestosterone -feeding and methyltestosterone -feeding withdrawal in the protogynous orange-spotted grouper.

Wang Q1,2, Liu Y1, Peng C1, Wang X1, Xiao L1, Wang D1, Chen J1, Zhang H3, Zhao H4, Li S1,2, Zhang Y1,2,3, Lin H1,2,5.

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State Key Laboratory of Biocontrol, Institute of Aquatic Economic Animals and Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory for Aquatic Economic Animals, School of Life Sciences, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, People's Republic of China.
South China Sea Bio-Resource Exploitation and Utilization Collaborative Innovation Center, Guangzhou, People's Republic of China.
Marine Fisheries Development Center of Guangdong Province, Huizhou, People's Republic of China.
College of Marine Sciences, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou, People's Republic of China.
College of Ocean, Hainan University, Haikou, People's Republic of China.


The sex identity of fish can be easily manipulated by exogenous hormones. Treatment with 17-methyltestosterone (MT) has been widely used to induce a male fate, but the molecular and cellular processes underlying sex changes induced by MT treatments and the withdrawal of MT are not well studied. In this study, we systematically investigated gonadal histology, gene expression profiles, sex steroid hormone levels, and cellular changes during sex changes induced by MT-feeding and MT-feeding withdrawal in the protogynous orange-spotted grouper, Epinephelus coioides. Based on gonadal histology, we demonstrated that MT-feeding-induced sex reversal can be divided into early and late phases: in the early phase, male and female germ cells coexist, and MT-feeding withdrawal leads to a female fate; in the late phase, only male germ cells are observed, and MT-feeding withdrawal does not reverse the process, leading to a male fate. In both the early and late phases, cytochrome P450 family19 subfamily A member 1 (cyp19a1a) gene expression increased in response to MT-feeding withdrawal. Finally, by tracing doublesex- and Mab-3-related transcription factor 1 (dmrt1)-expressing cells, we found that gonia-like cells in the germinal epithelium might be the major germ cell sources for developing testes during sex reversal. Collectively, our findings provide insights into the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying sex changes induced by exogenous hormones.


aromatase; germ cell; grouper; sex reversal

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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