Sexual differences and steroid-induced changes in metabolic activity in toadfish sonic muscle

J Exp Zool. 1985 Dec;236(3):259-64. doi: 10.1002/jez.1402360303.


Since the male oyster toadfish (Opsanus tau) is more active in sound production than the female, we hypothesized that sonic muscles of the male are biochemically specialized to perform more work. In order to categorize the muscle biochemically and test for sexual differences, we measured the activity of two anaerobic enzymes, 3-phosphoglyceraldehyde dehydrogenase (3PG) and lactic dehydrogenase (LDH), and two aerobic enzymes, malate dehydrogenase (MDH) and glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase (GOT). Males exhibited greater 3PG and GOT activity than females (p less than 0.05). Both MDH and LDH showed little activity in either sex. High 3PG and low LDH levels indicate a sustained level of glycolysis, with pyruvate shuttled into aerobic metabolism, and high GOT activity indicates a high level of aerobic metabolism. From this and other data, we conclude that toadfish sonic muscle can be classified as fast-twitch oxidative glycolytic or fast-twitch fatigue resistant. The endocrine basis for these sexual differences was examined by implanting steroid pellets into ovariectomized females. Testosterone induced a doubling of 3PG activity (p less than 0.02), and dihydrotestosterone induced an eight-fold increase (p less than 0.0005) in GOT concentration over controls. The steroids had no effect on LDH and MDH activities. Hormones, therefore, trigger one of the fundamental sexual differences underlying toadfish communication, namely a difference in metabolism, providing the male with the capacity for increased sound production.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases / metabolism
  • Dihydrotestosterone / pharmacology*
  • Estradiol / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Fishes
  • Glyceraldehyde-3-Phosphate Dehydrogenases / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase / metabolism*
  • Malate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Male
  • Muscles / drug effects
  • Muscles / enzymology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Testosterone / pharmacology*


  • Dihydrotestosterone
  • Testosterone
  • Estradiol
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase
  • Malate Dehydrogenase
  • Glyceraldehyde-3-Phosphate Dehydrogenases
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases