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Open Access Research article

In silico identification and molecular characterization of genes predominantly expressed in the fish oocyte

Julien Bobe1*, Thaovi Nguyen1, Sophie Mahé1 and Philippe Monget2

Author Affiliations

1 INRA, UR1337, IFR140, Ouest Genopole, Campus de Beaulieu, F-35000 Rennes, France

2 INRA, PRC, F-37380, Nouzilly, France

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BMC Genomics 2008, 9:499  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-499

Published: 23 October 2008

Abstract

Background

In fish, molecular mechanisms that control follicle-enclosed oocyte progression throughout oogenesis and oocyte developmental competence acquisition remain poorly understood. Existing data in mammals have indicated that the so called "oocyte-specific" genes play an important role in oogenesis, fertilization, and early embryo development. In teleost species, very little is known about "oocyte-specific" genes. The present study therefore aimed at identifying and characterizing oocyte-specific genes in fish.

Results

Using digital differential display PCR, mouse ESTs exhibiting an oocyte-predominant expression were identified. Those murine ESTs were subsequently used to identify cognate rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) ESTs using a reciprocal Blast search strategy. In the present study we report the identification of five previously uncharacterized rainbow trout cDNAs exhibiting a oocyte-specific, oocyte-predominant, or gonad-specific expression: zygote arrest 1 (zar1), v-mos Moloney murine sarcoma viral oncogene-like protein (mos), B-cell translocation gene (btg3), growth differentiation factor 9 (gdf9), and mutS homolog 4 (msh4). The orthology relationship of each of these genes with vertebrate counterparts was verified by phylogenetic analysis. Among those five genes, three had never been characterized in any fish species. In addition, we report the oocyte-predominant expression of btg3 for the first time in any vertebrate species. Finally, those five genes are present in unfertilized eggs as maternally-inherited mRNAs thus suggesting that they could participate in ovarian folliculogenesis as well as early embryonic development.

Conclusion

The expression patterns of zar1, mos, btg3, gdf9 and msh4 in rainbow trout and the functions of their orthologs in higher vertebrates strongly suggest that they might play an important role in follicle-enclosed oocyte development, meiosis control and early embryonic development in fish. Future investigations are however required to unravel the participation of those strong candidates in the molecular processes that control folliculogenesis and/or oocyte developmental competence in fish.