Santos, E.M., Kille, P., Workman, V.L., Paull, G.C., and Tyler, C.R. (2008) Sexually dimorphic gene expression in the brains of mature zebrafish. Comparative biochemistry and physiology. Part A, Molecular & integrative physiology. 149(3):314-324.
The molecular signalling pathways mediating sexual dimorphism have principally been investigated in the gonads, and to a lesser extent in other organs. The brain plays a central role in coordinating sexual function, including the regulation of reproductive development, maturation and sexual behaviour in both sexes. In this study, we investigated sex-related differences in gene expression in the brains of breeding zebrafish (Danio rerio) to establish a greater understanding of the sex-specific physiology of the brain in lower vertebrates. The brain transcriptomic profiles of males and females were interrogated to identify the genes showing sexually dimorphic gene expression. 42 genes were differentially expressed between the sexes, from which 18 genes were over-expressed in males and 24 genes were over-expressed in females. In males, these included deiodinase, iodothyronine, type II and ribosomal protein S8, and in females, superoxide dismutase [Cu-Zn], sprouty-4, frizzled 10 and testis enhanced gene transcript. Estrogen responsive elements were found in the regulatory regions for 3 genes over-expressed in males and 7 genes over-expressed in females. We have demonstrated the existence of dimorphic patterns of gene expression in the brain of a sexually mature, non-mammalian, vertebrate model, with implications for studies into reproduction and chemical disruption of brain function.