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Zebrafish sex: a complicated affair

Liew, W.C. and Orbán, L. (2014) Zebrafish sex: a complicated affair. Briefings in Functional Genomics, 13 (2). pp. 172-187.

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In this review, we provide a detailed overview of studies on the elusive sex determination (SD) and gonad differentiation mechanisms of zebrafish (Danio rerio).We show that the data obtained from most studies are compatible with polygenic sex determination (PSD), where the decision is made by the allelic combinations of several loci. These loci are typically dispersed throughout the genome, but in some teleost species a few of them might be located on a preferential pair of (sex) chromosomes. The PSD system has a much higher level of variation of SD genotypes both at the level of gametes and the sexual genotype of individuals, than that of the chromosomal sex determination systems. The early sexual development of zebrafish males is a complicated process, as they first develop a ‘juvenile ovary’, that later undergoes a transformation to give way to a testis. To date, three major developmental pathways were shown to be involved with gonad differentiation through the modulation of programmed cell death. In our opinion, there are more pathways participating in the regulation of zebrafish gonad differentiation/transformation. Introduction of additional powerful large-scale genomic approaches into the analysis of zebrafish reproduction will result in further deepening of our knowledge as well as identification of additional pathways and genes associated with these processes in the near future.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Copyright: © The Author 2013.
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