Int. J. Dev. Biol. 58: 733 - 741 (2014)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.140192ag
© UPV/EHU Press

Expression of aromatase in the embryonic brain of the olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), and the effect of bisphenol-A in sexually differentiated embryos

Patsy Gómez-Picos1, Itzel Sifuentes-Romero1, Horacio Merchant-Larios2, Rubí Hernández-Cornejo1, Verónica Díaz-Hernández3 and Alejandra García-Gasca*,1

1Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Centro de Investigación en Alimentación y Desarrollo (CIAD), Mazatlán, Sinaloa, Mexico, 2Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, Mexico and 3Departamento de Embriología, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico

ABSTRACT Brain aromatase participates in several biological processes, such as regulation of the reproductive-endocrine axis, memory, stress, sexual differentiation of the nervous system, male sexual behavior, and brain repair. Here we report the isolation and expression of brain aromatase in olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) embryos incubated at male- and female-promoting temperatures (MPT and FPT, respectively), at the thermosensitive period (TSP) and the sex-differentiated period. Also, aromatase expression was assessed in differentiated embryos exposed to bisphenol-A (BPA) during the TSP. BPA is a monomer of polycarbonate plastics and is considered an endocrine-disrupting compound. Normal aromatase expression was measured in both forebrain and hindbrain, showing higher expression levels in the forebrain of differentiated embryos at both incubation temperatures. Although no significant differences were detected in the hindbrain, expression was slightly higher at MPT. BPA did not affect aromatase expression neither in forebrains or hindbrains from embryos incubated at MPT, whereas at FPT an inverted U-shape curve was observed in forebrains with significant differences at lower concentrations, whereas in hindbrains a non-significant increment was observed at higher concentrations. Our data indicate that both incubation temperature and developmental stage are critical factors affecting aromatase expression in the forebrain. Because of the timing and location of aromatase expression in the brain, we suggest that brain aromatase may participate in the imprinting of sexual trends related to reproduction and sexual behavior at the onset of sex differentiation, and BPA exposure may impair aromatase function in the female forebrain.


aromatase, gene expression, Lepidochelys olivacea, temperature-dependent sex determination, bisphenol-A

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