Steroidogenic factor-1 (SF-1), originally identified as an orphan nuclear receptor that regulates expression of genes encoding cytochrome P-450 steroid hydroxylases, is an essential transcriptional factor for adrenal and gonadal development in mammals. Since sex steroid hormones have been shown to play important roles in the sex determination of frogs, it is of interest to know how SF-1 gene expression is regulated during the sexual development of this organism. A previous study isolated the cDNA of the frog Rana rugosa SF-1 (rrSF-1) and found sexual differences in its gene expression in adult frogs; positive in testis and negative in ovary (Kawano et al., 1998). This study examined rrSF-1 gene expression in frog embryos and developing and mature gonads by immunohistochemical staining using anti-rrSF-1 protein antibody for protein localization and by in situ hybridization analysis for mRNA transcription. The results obtained in this study indicated that cells expressing SF-1 that originate in the mesoderm and endoderm probably migrate into the developing gonad via the dorsal mesentery, genital ridge, and mesorchium or mesovarium. Thus, SF-1 may play an important role in gonadal development in amphibians.
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