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Influence of ovarian stage on transcript profiles in fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) ovary tissue


Interpretation of toxicogenomic experiments conducted with ovary tissue from asynchronous-spawning small fish species is complicated by background variation in the relative abundance and proportion of follicles at different stages within the ovary tissue sample. This study employed both real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction and a 15,000 gene oligonucleotide microarray to examine variation in the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) ovarian transcriptional profile as a function of quantitative and qualitative differences in ovarian histology. The objectives were to provide data that could potentially aid interpretation of future toxicogenomics experiments, identify putative stage-related transcriptional markers, and generate insights into basic biological regulation of asynchronous oocyte development. Multiple lines of evidence from the present study indicate that variation in the transcriptional profile is primarily dependent on the relative abundance of previtellogenic versus vitellogenic follicles in the ovary. Due to the relatively small proportions of mature ovulated follicles or atretic follicles in the overall follicle population, few potential transcriptional markers of maturation, ovulation, or atresia could be identified. However, among the 460 differentially expressed genes identified in the present study, several targets, including HtrA serine peptidase 3 (htra3), tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 3 (timp3), aquaporin 8 (aqp8), transgelin 2 like (tagln2), Nedd4 family interacting protein 2 (ndfip2), chemokine ligand 12a (cxcl12a), midkine-related growth factor (mdka), and jagged 1b (jag 1b) exhibited responses and functional properties that support them as candidate molecular markers of significant shift in gross ovarian stage. Genes associated with a diversity of functions including cellular development, morphogenesis, coated vesicle transport, sexual reproduction, and neuron development, among others, were statistically enriched within the list of 460 genes differentially expressed among different ovarian classes. Overall, results of this study provide insights into background variation in ovary transcript profiles that should aid and enhance the interpretation of toxicogenomic data generated in experiments conducted with small, asynchronous-spawning fish species.

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