Sox9-related signaling controls zebrafish juvenile ovary–testis transformation Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • In almost all vertebrates, the downstream of the sox9 signaling axis is well conserved for testis differentiation. The upstream genes of this pathway vary from species to species during evolution. Yet, little is known about how these signaling cascades are regulated and what cellular processes are dominant in ovary-testis transformation in juvenile zebrafish. In this study, we find that the transforming gonads undergo activation of sox9a-expressing stromal cells with increased deposition of extracellular matrix and formation of degenerative compartments. This leads to follicle disassembly, oocyte degeneration, follicle cell-cyp19a1a-amh conversions, and, eventually, formation of the testis cord. In vitro primary culture of juvenile ovary tissue in gonadotropins increases cytoplasmic accumulation of sox9a and p-Erk1/2, and induces mesenchymal morphology. MAPK inhibitors (MKI), a mixture of PD98059 and U0216, eliminate the cytoplasmic distribution but do not eradicate nuclear localization of sox9a and p-Erk1/2. Nuclear p53 are relatively increased in MKI-treated cells that exhibit less spreading and reduced proliferation. Despite uniform nuclear condensation, only a fraction of cells displayed the apoptotic phenotype. These results suggest that high levels of cytoplasmic sox9a and p-Erk1/2 activity activate stromal cells and enhance the production of extracellular matrix required for testis cord formation, whereas deregulation and translocation of sox9a and p-Erk1/2 induce follicle disassembly and incomplete apoptosis associated with nuclear p53. Together with the established FSH/cAMP/MAPK/AMH pathway in mammalian granulosa and Sertoli cells, we demonstrated that the sox9 axis signaling that determines testis formation in mammals also induces zebrafish ovary-testis transition, and adds to its conserved role in sex reversal.

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publication date

  • November 2013