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Keywords:

  • cane toad;
  • sex determination;
  • Sox9;
  • Dmrt1;
  • aromatase;
  • gonad

Abstract

The development of the reproductive system in bufonids (true toads) is unique in several respects: sexual differentiation occurs later than in other anurans, and toads develop a Bidder's organ, a rudimentary ovary that can be manipulated in males to produce mature oocytes. To illuminate the genesis of this unusual reproductive system, we isolated from the cane toad (Bufo marinus) the orthologues of several known vertebrate sex-determining genes, determined their primary structure, and studied their expression by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and in situ hybridization of tissue sections. We report here that cane toad Sox9, Dmrt1, and p450aromatase (Cyp19a1) are highly homologous to their counterparts in other vertebrates. They show profiles of expression that generally follow patterns observed in other taxa, but with some novel features. Our data suggest that these genes likely play key roles in sex determination and early gonad development in bufonids. Developmental Dynamics 238:2430–2441, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.