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Creating females? Developmental effects of 17α-ethynylestradiol on the mangrove rivulus' ovotestis.

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      Interest in the occurrence and fate of trace organic contaminants in the aquatic environment and their potential effects on all organisms has increased over the past two decades. Researches on contaminants have included both natural and synthetic estrogenic contaminants, neuroactive pharmaceuticals, and other endocrine disrupting chemicals that are mediated by the androgen and progesterone receptors. Exposure to very low concentrations (ng/L or parts per trillion) of compounds such as 17α-ethynylestradiol (EE(2)), a synthetic estrogen, can affect gonadal development, viability and production of eggs, fertilization rate, and sexual differentiation in fishes. Researchers and aquaculturists have used exposures to relatively higher concentrations of androgens and estrogens, for example 17α-methyltestosterone and EE(2), respectively, to direct sexual differentiation in a number of fishes. Rivulus is an androdioecious teleost that in nature exists mostly as selfing, simultaneous hermaphrodites as well as a small number of males that outcross with hermaphrodites. No one has either collected females in the wild or created functional females in the laboratory. This study had two goals: (1) to develop a reliable protocol to produce female rivulus to enable downstream technologies such as embryo injections and (2) to investigate developmental effects of EE(2) on the sexual outcome, reproductive health, and relevant gene expression in rivulus. With these goals in mind, we exposed newly hatched rivulus to nominal concentrations of 0.1, 0.5, or 1.0 parts per million (ppm) EE(2) for 4 weeks, grew them to maturity in control water, and then compared egg production; production and viability of embryos; age of reproductive maturity; and gene expression in the brain, gonad, and liver. Expression levels of seven genes with known relevance to gonadal development and function (cyp19a1b, cyp19a1a, dmrt1, figα, ERα, ERβ, and vtg) were measured using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR). There was a significant decrease in cyp19a1a gene expression in the brain, corresponding to increased exposure to EE(2). Gonadal gene expression for cyp19a1a, ERα, and dmrt1 also decreased in response to EE(2). Vtg expression in the liver was unaffected. Our hypothesis that exposure to EE(2) during gonadal differentiation would direct female development was not supported by the data. However, treated fish exhibited impaired reproductive health that included reduced expression of relevant genes and, importantly, decreased fertility, increased sterility, and delay of age of reproductive maturity. The results of this study suggest that the development and maintenance of a simultaneous hermphrodite ovotestis may be particularly sensitive to its hormonal milieu.

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      [1 ] Department of Animal and Avian Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
      Integr. Comp. Biol.
      Integrative and comparative biology
      Oxford University Press (OUP)
      Dec 2012
      : 52
      : 6
      22927136 ics110 10.1093/icb/ics110 3501100


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