In many vertebrates, steroid hormones are essential for ovarian differentiation during a critical developmental stage as well as promoting the growth and differentiation of the adult female reproductive system. Although studies have been extensively conducted in mammals and a few fish, amphibians, and bird species, the molecular mechanisms of sex steroid hormone (estrogens) action have been poorly examined in reptiles. Here, we evaluate hormone receptor and ligand interactions in two species of snake, the Okinawa habu (Protobothrops flavoviridis, Viperidae) and the Japanese four-striped rat snake (Elaphe quadrivirgata, Colubridae) after the isolation of cDNAs encoding estrogen receptor A (ESR1) and estrogen receptor B(ESR2). Using a transient transfection assay with mammalian cells, the transcriptional activity of reptilian (Okinawa habu, Japanese four-striped rat snake, American alligator, and Florida red-belly freshwater turtle) ESR1 and ESR2 was examined. All ESR proteins displayed estrogen-dependent activation of transcription via an estrogen-response element-containing promoter; however, the responsiveness to various estrogens was different. Further, we determined the chromosomal locations of the snake steroid hormone receptor genes. ESR1 and ESR2 genes were localized to the short and long arms of chromosome 1, respectively, whereas androgen receptor was localized to a pair of microchromosomes in the two snake species examined. These data provide basic tools that allow future studies examining receptor-ligand interactions and steroid endocrinology in snakes and also expands our knowledge of sex steroid hormone receptor evolution.
Katsu, Y., Matsubara, K., Kohno, S., Matsuda, Y., Toriba, M., Oka, K., Guillette, L., Ohta, Y., & Iguchi, T. (2010). Molecular Cloning, Characterization, and Chromosome Mapping of Reptilian Estrogen Receptors. Endocrinology, 151, 5710-5720. https://doi.org/10.1210/en.2010-0356