CeRNA regulation of fish sex determination and differentiation was first demonstrated

A model of dual ceRNA regulation of sex determination and differentiation of semi-slippery tongue rays Courtesy of the Yellow Sea Fisheries Research Institute

Recently, the innovation team of the Institute of Marine Fisheries Biological Genetic Resources evaluation and synthetic utilization of marine fisheries in the Yellow Sea Fisheries Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences used semi-slippery tongue fish as a research model to map the competitive endogenous RNA (ceRNA) network during its sex determination and differentiation period, found a dual ceRNA molecular pathway, and analyzed the epigenetic mechanism of ceRNA regulating fish sex determination and differentiation. This study is the first to confirm the ceRNA regulation mechanism of fish sex determination and differentiation, and it is also the first dual ceRNA regulation mechanism reported in the field of vertebrate sex determination and differentiation research. The research results were published in the international journal Genome Research.

The exploration of the mechanisms of gender determination and differentiation has always been one of the most attractive and popular areas of life science research. As a relatively inferior vertebrate, fish have become an excellent model for studying epigenetically mediated environment and gene interaction due to their extremely rich sex-determined types and environmental plasticity. As one of the important epigenetic regulatory mechanisms, non-coding RNA (ncRNA) regulates gene expression by regulating the structure and function of chromosomes, cis or trans regulation of transcription, and so on. However, whether ncRNAs regulate sex determination and differentiation in fish, and in what way, sex determination and differentiation in fish have been rarely reported.

Shao Changwei, a researcher at Yellow Sea Fisheries, told reporters that this study used full transcriptional sequencing technology to map the dynamic expression of ncRNA and ceRNA regulation networks during sex determination and differentiation periods of semi-slippery tongue rays, and found that a circular RNAcircdmrt1 and lncRNA AMSDT from autosomal can form a complex ceRNA regulatory relationship with cse-miR-196 and gsdf. In addition, molecular techniques such as RNAi, RNA pull down, immunoprecipitation experiment, and fluorescence in situ hybridization were used to confirm that circdmrt1 and AMSDT could bind cse-miR-196 in vitro and in vivo, and regulate the expression of gsdf horizontally after transcription.

Based on the above findings, the team proposed a molecular model of ceRNA-mediated sex determination and differentiation of semi-slippery tongue rays. During the period of sex differentiation, circdmrt1 and AMSDT were specifically highly expressed in male sperm nests, adsorbing cse-miR-196, thereby relieving the inhibition of gsdf by cse-miR-196, improving the expression of gsdf, and thus activating the male signaling pathway. Conversely, cricdmrt1 and AMSDT are lowly expressed in female ovaries, making the expression of cse-miR-196 higher in the ovaries, inhibiting the expression of gsdf, thereby activating the female signaling pathway.

The study shows that ceRNA-mediated molecular pathways are an effective way to regulate fish sex determination and differentiation. This study not only enriches the apparent regulatory theory of sex determination and differentiation in fish, but also provides new ideas for the in-depth study of the mechanism of sex determination and differentiation in vertebrates.

The research work has been supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China Outstanding Youth Fund, the National High-level Talents Special Support Program, the Qingdao Marine Science and Technology Pilot National Laboratory “Aoshan Talents” Outstanding Young Scholars, Shandong Taishan Scholars Young Experts, and the Institute Innovation Team. (Source: China Science Daily Liao Yang Sirun)

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