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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Cloning, sequence analysis, tissue distribution, and sex-specific expression of the neural form of P450 aromatase in juvenile sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax).

The teleost brain is characterized by exceptionally high levels of aromatase, the enzyme that converts androgens into estrogens, and by its continuous growth throughout life. Gonadal estrogens have been implicated in sex differentiation and the control of reproduction in adult fish, but the role of neural estrogens during early development is far from clear. The present study describes the isolation and characterization of the cDNA sequence from brain aromatase (P450aromB) in the European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax L.), a well established model for neuroendocrine research in fish. P450aromB was cloned from a brain cDNA library and encoded a predicted protein of 505 residues, with a calculated molecular weight of 57.2 kDa. Comparisons of the deduced amino acid sequence to that of the ovarian aromatase (P450aromA) in the same species revealed 62% identity, lower than the 84% identity shared between sea bass and tilapia brain aromatases. Phylogenetic analysis showed the occurrence of a gene duplication for P450arom in the teleost lineage after its divergence from the tetrapods. Moreover, the low percentage of identity between brain and ovarian forms within the same species suggests that both genes evolved separately right after the appearance of the teleosts. Tissue-specific expression of P450aromA and P450aromB mRNA was studied in adult sea bass. P450aromB was preferentially expressed in brain of both males and females but also present at much lower levels in testis, ovary and head kidney, an organ known for its steroidogenic capabilities in fish. However, P450aromA expression was restricted to testis and ovary. A semiquantitative PCR was developed to measure P450aromB mRNA levels. Analysis of the expression of P450aromB in the brain of juvenile sea bass showed that females exhibited higher mRNA levels than males at 200 days post fertilization (dpf), by the time of gonadal sex differentiation. A switch in expression occurred thereafter, between 200 and 250 dpf, with males exhibiting higher levels than females. This situation was maintained by 300 dpf and is in agreement with measured levels of enzymatic activity in adults. These changes and sex-related differences in expression profiles may imply differences in the functionality of the enzyme between males and females, suggesting an important role for P450aromB in sea bass sex differentiation. However, due to the continuous growth of the teleost brain throughout life, a role in neurogenesis for brain aromatase should also be considered.[1]


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