Ovarian Differentiation and Aberrant Müllerian Duct Development in Chinese Soft-shelled Turtle

Estrogens play critical roles in ovarian differentiation and female reproductive organ development in non-mammalian vertebrates; however, such estrogen effects have poorly been studied in reptiles. For example, two estrogen receptor (ESR) subtypes (ESR1 and ESR2) have been identified in amniotes, but their specific roles remain elusive. We showed that E2 (agonist for both ESR1 and ESR2) and PPT (ESR1-specific agonist) could induce ovarian differentiation and Müllerian duct (Primordia of female reproductive tract) development in ZZ (genetic male) embryos of the Chinese soft-shelled turtle, Pelodiscus sinensis. Furthermore, the stimulation of PPT lead to an abnormal maturation or growth (hyperplasia and glandular development) of the Müllerian duct. These results revealed that ESR1 is a possible primary ESR subtypes mediating gonadal differentiation and female reproductive organ development in the Chinese soft-shelled turtle. Our findings shed light on the underlying mechanisms for sex determination and reproductive organ biology in vertebrates.
Chinese Soft-shelled Turtle
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