15 November 2020
The P-element induced wimpy testis (Piwi) proteins, which are associated with PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs), play important roles in meiosis, germ cell division, and germline maintenance. In this study, we identified and characterized the Paralichthys olivaceus piwil2 gene, a constituent factor of the piRNA pathways involved in the biogenesis of reproductive development. The biological analysis indicated that piwil2, which contains PAZ and PIWI domains, was highly conserved between teleosts and tetrapods. The piwil2 distribution profile in different tissues confirmed a sexually dimorphic expression pattern, with a higher expression level in testis. In situ hybridization demonstrated that piwil2 was expressed in the oogonia and oocytes of the ovaries as well as in the Sertoli cells and spermatocytes of the testes. Gene piwil2 showed a maternally inherited expression pattern during embryonic development, and was highly expressed during the early embryonic development. Different luciferase reporters were constructed to determine the transcriptional regulatory mechanisms of piwil2. The piwil2 core promoter region was located at −360 bp to −60 bp. Furthermore, some representative sex hormones, including human chorionic gonadotropin, 17α-methyltestosterone, and estradiol-17β had distinct regulatory effects on piwil2. In a summery, these results indicate that piwil2, regulated by sex hormones and transcriptional elements, has vital functions in the reproductive cycle and gonadal development.