Expression of the reproductive female-specific vitellogenin gene in endocrinologically induced male and intersex Cherax quadricarinatus crayfish Academic Article uri icon


  • In oviparous females, the synthesis of the yolk precursor vitellogenin is an important step in ovarian maturation and oocyte development. In decapod Crustacea, including the red-claw crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus), this reproductive process is regulated by inhibitory neurohormones secreted by the endocrine X-organ-sinus gland (XO-SG) complex. In males, the C. quadricarinatus vitellogenin gene (CqVg), although present, is not expressed under normal conditions. We show here that endocrine manipulation by removal of the XO-SG complex from male animals induced CqVg transcription. The CqVg gene was expressed differentially during the molt cycle in these induced males: no expression was seen in the intermolt stages, but expression was occasionally detected in the premolt stages and always detected in the early postmolt stages. Relative quantitation with a real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction showed that expression of CqVg in induced early postmolt males was an order of magnitude lower than that in reproductive females, a finding that was consistent with RNA in situ hybridization results. The SDS-PAGE of high-density lipoproteins from the hemolymph of endocrinologically induced early postmolt males did not show the typical vitellogenin-related polypeptide profile found in reproductive females. On the other hand, removal of the XO-SG complex from intersex individuals, which are chromosomally female but functionally male and possess an arrested female reproductive system, induced the expression, translation, and release of CqVg products into the hemolymph, as was the case for vitellogenic females. The expression of CqVg in endocrinologically manipulated molting males and intersex animals provides an inducible model for the investigation and understanding of the endocrine regulation of CqVg expression and translation in Crustacea as well as the relationship between the endocrine axes regulating molt and reproduction. gene regulation, oocyte development, ovary, ovulatory cycle

publication date

  • January 1, 2005