The Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus, is a gonochoristic teleost fish with an XX/XY genetic system and is an excellent model for gonadal sex differentiation. In the present study, we screened novel genes that were expressed predominantly in either XY or XX undifferentiated gonads during the critical period for differentiation of gonads into ovaries or testes using microarray screening. We focused on one of the isolated 12 candidate genes, #9475, which was an ortholog of gsdf (gonadal soma-derived factor), a member of the transforming growth factor-beta superfamily. #9475/gsdf showed sexual dimorphism in expression in XY gonads before any other testis differentiation-related genes identified in this species thus far. We also overexpressed the #9475/gsdf gene in XX tilapia, and XX tilapia bearing the #9475/gsdf gene showed normal testis development, which suggests that #9475/gsdf plays an important role in male determination and/or differentiation in tilapia.
Keywords: Nile tilapia; Sex determination; Sex differentiation; dmrt1; gsdf.
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