Sexually dimorphic expression of steroidogenic factor 1 (SF-1) in developing gonads of the American bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana

Loretta P. Mayer, Stefanie L. Overstreet, Cheryl A. Dyer, Catherine R. Propper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Scopus citations


Genetic sex determination leads to gonadal differentiation and ultimately the differences between the sexes in steroid hormone secretion. Gonadal steroidogenesis is critical for the development of a sexually dimorphic phenotype and adult reproductive function. Control of gonadal development and steroidogenesis is under the regulation, at least in part, of steroidogenic factor-1 (SF-1). We have begun to characterize SF-1 expression in an amphibian to determine the role of this protein in development and reproduction. We have detected a putative SF-1 protein from several tissues in the American bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana, that co-migrates with mouse SF-1 on a Western blot. Our results show that bullfrog SF-1 protein is expressed in steroidogenic and other reproductive tissues in a manner similar to that reported for other species, with high expression in the brain, pituitary, gonad, liver, and interrenal, but little or no expression in non-reproductive tissues such as skin and intestine. Using a quantitative Western blot analysis system, we documented changes in SF-1 protein in the gonads of developing tadpoles. Our results indicate that there is sexually dimorphic expression of SF-1 protein that becomes evident at the time of sexual differentiation of the gonads. In males, the expression of SF-1 decreases following testicular formation and in females the expression increases with the formation of ovaries. This is the first study to investigate changes in SF-1 during development at the protein level. The expression is similar to that reported for changes in SF-1 mRNA expression in chickens and alligators, however, opposite to that seen in mammals and turtles. These results indicate that SF-1 may play a pivotal role in development of the reproductive system in amphibians as it does in other vertebrate groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-47
Number of pages8
JournalGeneral and Comparative Endocrinology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Amphibian
  • SF-1
  • Sexual differentiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Endocrinology

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