Kim, D.J., Seok, S.H., Baek, M.W., Lee, H.Y., Na, Y.R., Park, S.H., Lee, H.K., Dutta, N.K., Kawakami, K., and Park, J.H. (2009) Estrogen-responsive transient expression assay using a brain aromatase-based reporter gene in zebrafish (Danio rerio). Comparative medicine. 59(5):416-423.
Whereas endogenous estrogens play an important role in the development, maintenance, and function of female and male reproductive organs, xenoestrogens present in the environment disrupt normal endocrine function in humans and wildlife. Various in vivo and in vitro assays have been developed to screen these xenoestrogens. However, traditional in vivo assays are laborious and unsuitable for large-scale screening, and in vitro assays do not necessarily replicate in vivo functioning. To overcome these limitations, we developed a transient expression assay in zebrafish, into which a brain aromatase (cyp19a1b)-based estrogen-responsive reporter gene was introduced. In response to 17beta-estradiol (10(-6) M) and heptachlor (10(-6) M), zebrafish embryos carrying the reporter construct expressed enhanced green fluorescent protein in the olfactory bulb, telencephalon, preoptic area, and mediobasal hypothalamus. This system will serve to model the in vivo conversion and breakdown of estrogenic compounds and thus provide a rapid preliminary screening method to estimate their estrogenicity.