Chen, S., Zhang, H., Wang, F., Zhang, W., Peng, G. (2016) nr0b1 (DAX1) mutation in zebrafish causes female-to-male sex reversal through abnormal gonadal proliferation and differentiation. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology. 433:105-16.
Sex determinations are diverse in vertebrates. Although many sex-determining genes and pathways are conserved, the mechanistic roles of these genes and pathways in the genetic sex determination are not well understood. DAX1 (encoded by the NR0B1 gene) is a vertebrate specific orphan nuclear receptor that regulates gonadal development and sexual determination. In human, duplication of the NR0B1 gene leads to male-to-female sex reversal. In mice, Nr0b1 shows both pro-testis and anti-testis functions. We generated inheritable nr0b1 mutation in the zebrafish and found the nr0b1 mutation caused homozygous mutants to develop as fertile males due to female-to-male sex reversal. The nr0b1 mutation did not increase Caspase-3 labeling nor tp53 expression in the developing gonads. Introduction of a tp53 mutation into the nr0b1 mutant did not rescue the sex-reversal phenotype. Further examination revealed reduction in cell proliferation and abnormal somatic cell differentiation in the nr0b1 mutant gonads at the undifferentiated and bi-potential ovary stages. Together, our results suggest nr0b1 regulates somatic cell differentiation and cell proliferation to ensure normal sex development in the zebrafish.