Identification and expression analysis of two Wnt4 genes in the spotted scat (Scatophagus argus)
Background: WNT4 is a protein that plays a crucial role in ovarian differentiation and development in mammals, with a relatively well understood function in mammalian gonadal differentiation. The role of WNT4 in teleost fish; however, remains unclear. In the present study, cDNAs of Wnt4a and Wnt4b were cloned and characterized in the spotted scat. The expression patterns of two Wnt4 genes in the gonads at different stages of development and in fish after treatment with 17a-methyltestosterone (MT) were investigated. Results: The tissue distribution showed that Wnt4a was expressed in various tissues, including the gonads, gills, spleen, brain, and fin. Interestingly, Wnt4b not only was expressed in the gills, brain, and spleen, but also was obviously expressed in the ovary. During gonad development, Wnt4a was highly expressed in the testis at stage I and Wnt4b was mainly expressed in the ovary at stages II-III. After MT treatment, the mRNA expression of Wnt4a increased significantly up to 40 d, and the transcript level of Wnt4b decreased at 20 d. Conclusions: These results suggest that Wnt4a may be involved in gonad development and plays a role in the process of spermatogonial proliferation. Our results also demonstrate that Wnt4b is not only expressed in the nervous system, but also in the ovary and it may be involved in ovary development of the spotted scat.