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Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2019 Mar 13. pii: S0016-6480(18)30509-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2019.03.008. [Epub ahead of print]

The germline-specific expression of Foxl3a and its paralogous Foxl3b are associated with male gonadal differentiation in the Japanese eel, Anguilla japonica.

Author information

1
Department of Aquaculture, National Taiwan Ocean University, Keelung 202, Taiwan; Center of Excellence for the Oceans, National Taiwan Ocean University, Keelung 202, Taiwan. Electronic address: gcwu@mail.ntou.edu.tw.
2
Department of Aquaculture, National Kaohsiung University of Science and Technology, Kaohsiung 811, Taiwan.
3
Department of Aquaculture, National Taiwan Ocean University, Keelung 202, Taiwan.
4
Department of Aquaculture, National Taiwan Ocean University, Keelung 202, Taiwan; Center of Excellence for the Oceans, National Taiwan Ocean University, Keelung 202, Taiwan. Electronic address: b0044@email.ntou.edu.tw.

Abstract

Unlike its paralog Foxl2, which is well known for its role in ovarian development in vertebrates, the function of Foxl3 is still unclear. Foxl3 is an ancient duplicated copy of Foxl2. It is present as a single copy in ray-finned fish. But, due to repeated losses, it is absent in most tetrapods. Our transcriptomic data, however, show that two Foxl3s (Foxl3a and its paralog Foxl3b) are present in Japanese eel. Foxl3a is predominantly expressed in the pituitary, and Foxl3b is predominantly expressed in the gills. Both Foxl3s show a sex-dimorphic expression, being higher expression in testes than in ovaries. Moreover, Foxl3a and Foxl3b were exclusively expressed during gonadal differentiation in control eels (100% male). Conversely, Foxl3a and Foxl3b significantly decreased after gonadal differentiation in E2-treated eels (100% female). Furthermore, in accordance the difference in adhesive ability between somatic cells and germline cells in testes, Foxl3s showed a high expression in suspension cells (putative germline cells) and low expression in adhesive cells (putative somatic cells). In situ hybridization further showed that Foxl3a and Foxl3b were expressed in the testicular germline cells. In addition, Foxl3s expression was not changed by sex steroids in in vitro testes culture. Taken together, our results suggest that the teleost-specific Foxl3 paralog was repeatedly lost in most fish after the third round of whole genome duplication. The two germline-expressed Foxl3s had higher expression levels in males than in females during gonadal differentiation in Japanese eel. These results demonstrated that Foxl3s might play an important role in germline sexual fate determination from ancient fish to modern fish.

KEYWORDS:

Androgen; Estrogen; Gene duplication; Sex determination; Sex steroid

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