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Expression profiles of metamorphosis-related genes during natural transformations in tadpoles of wild Wood Frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus)

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Numerous studies using laboratory-reared tadpoles have shown the importance of thyroid hormones (TH), thyroid receptors (TR), and deiodinase (Dio) enzymes during anuran metamorphosis. Our study focuses on the analysis of thyroid-related genes in tadpoles of wild Wood Frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus (LeConte, 1825); also known as Rana sylvatica (Cope, 1889)) during metamorphosis. Results showed that, in concordance with laboratory-reared studies, thyroid receptor beta (trb) gene expression profiles presented the most marked changes. At climax and compared with premetamorphic stages, brains, tails, and gonad–mesonephros complex (GMC) tissues increased trb expression levels 5-, 21-, and 41-fold, respectively (p < 0.05). In addition, gene expression levels of brain deiodinase type II and III showed opposite trends, where 3-fold decrease and 10-fold increase were, respectively, found. This finding supports the idea that thyroid hormone, as it has been demonstrated in laboratory-reared tadpoles, is also involved in natural metamorphosis in wild tadpoles. Interestingly, and contrary to our predictions, we observed that whole brain corticotropin-releasing factor (crf) and crf receptor 1 (crfr1) gene expression levels significantly decrease through metamorphosis in wild L. sylvaticus tadpoles. Further analyses are required to determine if a role of TH in the timing of anuran gonadal development exists, as well as the importance of cell-specific and tissue-specific expression of crf and crfr1 to metamorphosis.

Keywords: Lithobates sylvaticus; Rana sylvatica; Wood Frog; amphibians; amphibiens; axe thyroïdien; developmental gene expression profiles; grenouille des bois; metamorphosis; métamorphose; profils d’expression génique du développement; tadpoles; thyroid axis; têtards

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Centre for Advanced Research in Environmental Genomics (CAREG), Department of Biology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5, Canada. 2: Department of Biology, University of New Brunswick, Saint John, NB E2L 4L5, Canada.

Publication date: September 17, 2012

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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