Identification of a membrane estrogen receptor in zebrafish with homology to mammalian GPER and its high expression in early germ cells of the testis

Xiaochun Liu*, Pei Zhu, Kathy W.Y. Sham, Jacky M.L. Yuen, Chuanming Xie, Yong Zhang, Yun Liu, Shuisheng Li, Xigui Huang, Christopher H.K. Cheng, Haoran Lin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


To study the rapid action of estrogen on the male reproductive system in teleost, a full-length cDNA homologous to the seven-transmembrane receptor GPER of humans and rodents was cloned from the testis of zebrafish. Biological characterization of this cloned zebrafish gper was performed based on its functional expression in cultured eukaryotic cells. Saturation analysis and Scatchard plotting of [3H]-estradiol binding to plasma membranes of gper-transfected COS-7 cells and cAMP response element transactivation assay demonstrated the biological function of the cloned gper as an estrogen receptor. In addition, treatment of gper-transfected COS-7 cells with 17beta-estradiol increased the phosphorylation of MAPK3/MAPK1. However, the inactivity of Gper in the FOS promoter transactivation study indicated some functional difference between the zebrafish and human receptors. We found gper to be highly expressed in the brain and testis by RT-PCR analysis. Results of in situ hybridization demonstrated the localization of gper in specific brain regions and in early germ cells of the testis, including the spermatogonia, spermatocytes, and somatic cells such as Sertoli cells in adult male zebrafish. Subsequent RT-PCR analysis in cells derived from laser capture microdissection microscopy further confirmed the high expression of gper in early germ cells of the testis. The present study demonstrates the existence of a functionally active Gper in zebrafish and suggests a putative role in mediating the rapid action of estrogen in male reproduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1253-1261
Number of pages9
JournalBiology of reproduction
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2009


  • Estradiol receptor
  • Germ cells
  • Gper
  • Male reproduction
  • Membrane estrogen receptor
  • Signal transduction
  • Spermatogenesis
  • Testis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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