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Molecular identification and expression profiles of four splice variants of Sex-lethal gene in Cherax quadricarinatus

Zheng, Jianbo, Cheng, Shun, Jia, Yongyi, Gu, Zhimin, Li, Fei, Chi, Meili, Liu, Shili, Jiang, Wenping
Comparative biochemistry and physiology 2019 v.234 pp. 26-33
Cherax quadricarinatus, animal ovaries, autosomes, breeding methods, complementary DNA, developmental stages, females, gene expression, genes, males, messenger RNA, nucleotide sequences, proteins, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, sequence analysis, sex chromosomes, sex determination, sexual development, shrimp, testes, tissues
Cherax quadricarinatus, as one of the world's most valuable freshwater shrimp species, has received extensive attention in recent years. As males grow larger and faster than females, development of the sex control breeding techniques is of great interest, but knowledge on sex determination and differentiation in C. quadricarinatus remains poorly unknown. Sxl (Sex-lethal) is an important gene in the sexual differentiation regulatory hierarchy. It reflects the ratio of sex chromosomes to autosomes into molecule changes and directs sex-specific splicing forms of precursor mRNA. In the present study, the full-length cDNA sequences of four Sxl splice variants were identified from C. quadricarinatus, designated as CqSxl1, CqSxl2, CqSxl3 and CqSxl4, respectively. Sequence analysis determined different splicing sites near the translation termination region of four Sxl transcript isoforms. Two highly conserved classical RRM domains were found according to predicted secondary structures of Sxl proteins. mRNA expression of CqSxl in different tissues, developmental stage of embryos and testes were investigated by real-time quantitative PCR. Among four isoforms, CqSxl3 showed tissue specificity with higher expression levels in testis than in ovary. CqSxl1 and CqSxl4 were found widely expressed in various tissues and CqSxl2 was almost undetectable. In early developmental stages, the expression levels of CqSxl1/3/4 gradually increased along with embyonic development. In addition, CqSxl genes presented the higher transcript levels in the early stage of testis development. Furthermore, CqSxl3 silencing induced a significant decrease of the transcript of Cq-IAG, an androgenic hormone-encoding gene responsible for masculine development. These data indicate that CqSxl3 might be involved in male sex determination in C. quadricarinatus. Our study will contribute to understanding the mechanism of sex determination in C. quadricarinatus, and also can provide theoretical guidance for establishing a sex control technology.