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Lili Chen, Xiaolong Jiang, Haiwei Feng, Hongjuan Shi, Lina Sun, Wenjing Tao, Qingping Xie and Deshou Wang

Estrogen, which is synthesized earlier in females than androgen in males, is critical for sex determination in non-mammalian vertebrates. However, it remains unknown that what would happen to the gonadal phenotype if estrogen and androgen were administrated simultaneously. In this study, XY and XX tilapia fry were treated with the same dose of 17α-methyltestosterone (MT) and 17β-estradiol (E2) alone and in combination from 0 to 30 days after hatching. Treatment of XY fish with E2 resulted in male to female sex reversal, while treatment of XX fish with MT resulted in female to male sex reversal. In contrast, simultaneous treatment of XX and XY fish with MT and E2 resulted in female, but with cyp11b2 and cyp19a1a co-expressed in the ovary. Serum 11-ketotestosteron level of the MT and E2 simultaneously treated XX and XY female was similar to that of the XY control, while serum E2 level of these two groups was similar to that of the XX control. Transcriptomic cluster analysis revealed that the MT and E2 treated XX and XY gonads clustered into the same branch with the XX control. However a small fraction of genes, which showed disordered expression, may be associated with stress response. These results demonstrated that estrogen could maintain the female phenotype of XX fish and feminize XY fish even in the presence of androgen. Simultaneous treatment with estrogen and androgen up-regulated the endogenous estrogen and androgen synthesis, and resulted in disordered gene expression and endocrine disruption in tilapia.

Free access

Hongjuan Shi, Tian Gao, Zhilong Liu, Lina Sun, Xiaolong Jiang, Lili Chen and Deshou Wang

Induction of sex reversal of XY fish has been restricted to the sex undifferentiated period. In the present study, differentiated XY tilapia were treated with trilostane (TR), metopirone (MN) and glycyrrhetinic acid (GA) (inhibitor of 3β-HSD, Cyp11b2 and 11β-HSD, respectively) alone or in combination with 17β-estradiol (E2) from 30 to 90 dah (days after hatching). At 180 dah, E2 alone resulted in 8.3%, and TR, MN and GA alone resulted in no secondary sex reversal (SSR), whereas TR + E2, MN + E2 and GA + E2 resulted in 88.3, 60.0 and 46.7% of SSR, respectively. This sex reversal could be rescued by simultaneous administration of 11-ketotestosterone (11-KT). Compared with the control XY fish, decreased serum 11-KT and increased E2 level were detected in SSR fish. Immunohistochemistry analyses revealed that Cyp19a1a, Cyp11b2 and Dmrt1 were expressed in the gonads of GA + E2, MN + E2 and TR + E2 SSR XY fish at 90 dah, but only Cyp19a1a was expressed at 180 dah. When the treatment was applied from 60 to 120 dah, TR + E2 resulted in 3.3% of SSR, MN + E2 and GA + E2 resulted in no SSR. These results demonstrated that once 11-KT was synthesized, it could antagonize E2-induced male-to-female SSR, which could be abolished by simultaneous treatment with the inhibitor of steroidogenic enzymes. The upper the enzyme was located in the steroidogenic pathway, the higher SSR rate was achieved when it was inhibited as some of the precursors, such as androstenedione, testosterone and 5α-dihydrotestosterone, could act as androgens. These results highlight the key role of androgen in male sex maintenance.

Free access

Andrew W Norris, Katie Larson Ode, Lina Merjaneh, Srinath Sanda, Yaling Yi, Xingshen Sun, John F Engelhardt and Rebecca L Hull

In cystic fibrosis (CF), ductal plugging and acinar loss result in rapid decline of exocrine pancreatic function. This destructive process results in remodeled islets, with only a modest reduction in insulin-producing β cells. However, β-cell function is profoundly impaired, with decreased insulin release and abnormal glucose tolerance being present even in infants with CF. Ultimately, roughly half the CF subjects develop diabetes (termed CF-related diabetes (CFRD)). Importantly, CFRD increases CF morbidity and mortality via worsening catabolism and pulmonary disease. Current accepted treatment options for CFRD are aimed at insulin replacement, thereby improving glycemia as well as preventing nutritional losses and lung decline. CFRD is a unique form of diabetes with a distinct pathophysiology that is as yet incompletely understood. Recent studies highlight emerging areas of interest. First, islet inflammation and lymphocyte infiltration are common even in young children with CF and may contribute to β-cell failure. Second, controversy exists in the literature regarding the presence/importance of β-cell intrinsic functions of CFTR and its direct role in modulating insulin release. Third, loss of the CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) from pancreatic ductal epithelium, the predominant site of its synthesis, results in paracrine effects that impair insulin release. Finally, the degree of β-cell loss in CFRD does not appear sufficient to explain the deficit in insulin release. Thus, it may be possible to enhance the function of the remaining β-cells using strategies such as targeting islet inflammation or ductal CFTR deficiency to effectively treat or even prevent CFRD.

Restricted access

Qiaoyuan Zheng, Hesheng Xiao, Hongjuan Shi, Tingru Wang, Lina Sun, Wenjing Tao, Thomas D Kocher, Minghui Li and Deshou Wang

The impacts of androgens and glucocorticoids on spermatogenesis have intrigued scientists for decades. 11β-hydroxylase, encoded by cyp11c1, is the key enzyme involved in the synthesis of 11-ketotestosterone and cortisol, the major androgen and glucocorticoid in fish, respectively. In the present study, a Cyp11c1 antibody was produced. Western blot and immunohistochemistry showed that Cyp11c1 was predominantly expressed in the testicular Leydig cells and head kidney interrenal cells. A mutant line of cyp11c1 was established by CRISPR/Cas9. Homozygous mutation of cyp11c1 caused a sharp decrease of serum cortisol and 11-ketotestosterone, and a delay in spermatogenesis which could be rescued by exogenous 11-ketotestosterone or testosterone, but not cortisol treatment. Intriguingly, this spermatogenesis restored spontaneously, indicating compensatory effects of other androgenic steroids. In addition, loss of Cyp11c1 led to undersized testes with a smaller efferent duct and disordered spermatogenic cysts in adult males. However, a small amount of viable sperm was produced. Taken together, our results demonstrate that cyp11c1 is important for testicular development, especially for the initiation and proper progression of spermatogenesis. 11-ketotestosterone is the most efficient androgen in tilapia.

Open access

Shisan Xu, Fangjing Xie, Li Tian, Samane Fallah, Fatemeh Babaei, Sinai HC Manno, Francis A. M. Manno III, Lina Zhu, Kin Fung Wong, Yimin Liang, Rajkumar Ramalingam, Lei Sun, Xin Wang, Rorbert Plumb, Lee Gethings, Yun Wah Lam and Skuk Han Cheng

Sexual differences have been observed in the onset and prognosis of human cardiovascular diseases, but the underlying mechanisms are not clear. Here, we found that zebrafish heart regeneration is faster in females, can be accelerated by estrogen and is suppressed by the estrogen-antagonist tamoxifen. Injuries to the zebrafish heart, but not other tissues, increased plasma estrogen levels and the expression of estrogen receptors, especially esr2a. The resulting endocrine disruption induces the expression of the female-specific protein vitellogenin in male zebrafish. Transcriptomic analyses suggested heart injuries triggered pronounced immune and inflammatory responses in females. These responses, previously shown to elicit heart regeneration, could be enhanced by estrogen treatment in males and reduced by tamoxifen in females. Furthermore, a prior exposure to estrogen preconditioned the zebrafish heart for an accelerated regeneration. Altogether, this study reveals that heart regeneration is modulated by an estrogen-inducible inflammatory response to cardiac injury. These findings elucidate a previously unknown layer of control in zebrafish heart regeneration and provide a new model system for the study of sexual differences in human cardiac repair.