A natural antisense transcript of the fem-1 gene was found expressed in female gonads during the characterization, expression profile, and cellular localization of the fem-1 gene in Pacific white shrimp Penaeus vannamei.
Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste (CIBNOR), Aquaculture Genetics and Breeding Laboratory, Ave. Instituto Politécnico Nacional No. 195, Col. Playa Palo de Santa Rita, 23096 La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Electronic address: [Email]
The fem-1 gene in Caenorhabditis elegans is involved in sex differentiation; it is specifically required for all aspects of male development. In this study, the full-length cDNA of the fem-1 (Pvfem-1) gene was isolated from the Pacific whiteleg shrimp Penaeus vannamei. The Pvfem-1 transcript is 3778 nt long and encodes a putative protein (PvFEM-1) of 638 amino acids that presented eight ankyrin repeats. The translated protein showed a significant (P < 0.05) structural similitude by superposition with C. elegans FEM-1 protein. Pvfem-1 expression was evaluated by qPCR and in situ hybridization (ISH) during embryogenesis, larval development, and gonads of both genders in subadult and adult life stages. Pvfem-1 was found expressed in brain, intestine, hepatopancreas, and in the gonads of both genders in subadults and adults when quantified by RT-qPCR. A significant finding was the discovery of a natural antisense transcript (NAT) of Pvfem-1 by ISH. It was present in the oocyte nucleus of subadult female shrimp gonads but was not seen within oocytes from adult females, although it was detected in follicular cells, suggesting a possible post-transcriptional regulation of Pvfem-1 in female gonad. Conversely, in males, no NAT was observed, and Pvfem-1 was found expressed in spermatogonia of both, subadult and adult shrimps indicating a function in male sexual differentiation and gametes generation. This study represents the first step for future functional analysis that is expected to contribute to clarifying the role of Pvfem-1 in sex differentiation and determination.