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Androgen receptors in a cichlid fish, Astatotilapia burtoni: Structure, localization, and expression levels

Authors

  • Lene K. Harbott,

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Neuroscience Program, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305
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  • Sabrina S. Burmeister,

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Neuroscience Program, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Biology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599
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  • Richard B. White,

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Neuroscience Program, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305
    Current affiliation:
    1. Ferring Research Institute, San Diego, CA 92121
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  • Mike Vagell,

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Neuroscience Program, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305
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  • Russell D. Fernald

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Neuroscience Program, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305
    • Department of Biological Sciences, 371 Serra Mall, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-5020
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Abstract

Androgens are an important output of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis that controls reproduction in all vertebrates. In male teleosts two androgens, testosterone and 11-ketotestosterone, control sexual differentiation and development in juveniles and reproductive behavior in adults. Androgenic signals provide feedback at many levels of the HPG axis, including the hypothalamic neurons that synthesize and release gonadotropin-releasing hormone 1 (GnRH1), but the precise cellular site of androgen action in the brain is not known. Here we describe two androgen receptor subtypes, ARα and ARβ, in the cichlid Astatotilapia burtoni and show that these subtypes are differentially located throughout the adult brain in nuclei known to function in the control of reproduction. ARα was expressed in the ventral part of the ventral telencephalon, the preoptic area (POA) of the hypothalamus and the ventral hypothalamus, whereas ARβ was more widely expressed in the dorsal and ventral telencephalon, the POA, and the ventral and dorsal hypothalamus. We provide the first evidence in any vertebrate that the GnRH1-releasing neurons, which serve as the central control point of the HPG axis, express both subtypes of AR. Using quantitative real-time PCR, we show that A. burtoni AR subtypes have different expression levels in adult tissue, with ARα showing significantly higher expression than ARβ in the pituitary, and ARβ expressed at a higher level than ARα in the anterior and middle brain. These data provide important insight into the role of androgens in regulating the vertebrate reproductive axis. J. Comp. Neurol. 504:57–73, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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