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Molecular phenotype of zebrafish ovarian follicle by serial analysis of gene expression and proteomic profiling, and comparison with the transcriptomes of other animals

Anja Knoll-Gellida1, Michèle André1, Tamar Gattegno2, Jean Forgue1, Arie Admon2 and Patrick J Babin1*

Author Affiliations

1 Génomique et Physiologie des Poissons, UMR NUAGE, Université Bordeaux 1, 33405 Talence cedex, France

2 Department of Biology, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 32000, Israel

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BMC Genomics 2006, 7:46  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-7-46

Published: 9 March 2006



The ability of an oocyte to develop into a viable embryo depends on the accumulation of specific maternal information and molecules, such as RNAs and proteins. A serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE) was carried out in parallel with proteomic analysis on fully-grown ovarian follicles from zebrafish (Danio rerio). The data obtained were compared with ovary/follicle/egg molecular phenotypes of other animals, published or available in public sequence databases.


Sequencing of 27,486 SAGE tags identified 11,399 different ones, including 3,329 tags with an occurrence superior to one. Fifty-eight genes were expressed at over 0.15% of the total population and represented 17.34% of the mRNA population identified. The three most expressed transcripts were a rhamnose-binding lectin, beta-actin 2, and a transcribed locus similar to the H2B histone family. Comparison with the large-scale expressed sequence tags sequencing approach revealed highly expressed transcripts that were not previously known to be expressed at high levels in fish ovaries, like the short-sized polarized metallothionein 2 transcript. A higher sensitivity for the detection of transcripts with a characterized maternal genetic contribution was also demonstrated compared to large-scale sequencing of cDNA libraries. Ferritin heavy polypeptide 1, heat shock protein 90-beta, lactate dehydrogenase B4, beta-actin isoforms, tubulin beta 2, ATP synthase subunit 9, together with 40 S ribosomal protein S27a, were common highly-expressed transcripts of vertebrate ovary/unfertilized egg. Comparison of transcriptome and proteome data revealed that transcript levels provide little predictive value with respect to the extent of protein abundance. All the proteins identified by proteomic analysis of fully-grown zebrafish follicles had at least one transcript counterpart, with two exceptions: eosinophil chemotactic cytokine and nothepsin.


This study provides a complete sequence data set of maternal mRNA stored in zebrafish germ cells at the end of oogenesis. This catalogue contains highly-expressed transcripts that are part of a vertebrate ovarian expressed gene signature. Comparison of transcriptome and proteome data identified downregulated transcripts or proteins potentially incorporated in the oocyte by endocytosis. The molecular phenotype described provides groundwork for future experimental approaches aimed at identifying functionally important stored maternal transcripts and proteins involved in oogenesis and early stages of embryo development.