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Endocrinology 2022 Nov 14;1641:. doi: 10.1210/endocr/bqac182.
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cyp21a2 Knockout Tadpoles Survive Metamorphosis Despite Low Corticosterone.

Paul B , Shewade LH , Buchholz DR .

Corticosteroids are so vital for organ maturation that reduced corticosteroid signaling during postembryonic development causes death in terrestrial vertebrates. Indeed, death occurs at metamorphosis in frogs lacking proopiomelanocortin (pomc) or the glucocorticoid receptor (GR; nr3c1). Some residual corticosteroids exist in pomc mutants to activate the wild-type (WT) GR and mineralocorticoid receptor (MR), and the elevated corticosteroids in GR mutants may activate MR. Thus, we expected a more severe developmental phenotype in tadpoles with inactivation of 21-hydroxylase, which should eliminate all interrenal corticosteroid biosynthesis. Using CRISPR/Cas9 in Xenopus tropicalis, we produced an 11-base pair deletion in cyp21a2, the gene encoding 21-hydroxylase. Growth and development were delayed in cyp21a2 mutant tadpoles, but unlike the other frog models, they survived metamorphosis. Consistent with an absence of 21-hydroxylase, mutant tadpoles had a 95% reduction of aldosterone in tail tissue, but they retained some corticosterone (∼40% of WT siblings), an amount, however, too low for survival in pomc mutants. Decreased corticosteroid signaling was evidenced by reduced expression of corticosteroid-response gene, klf9, and by impaired negative feedback in the hypothalamus-pituitary-interrenal axis with higher messenger RNA expression levels of crh, pomc, star, and cyp11b2 and an approximately 30-fold increase in tail content of progesterone. In vitro tail-tip culture showed that progesterone can transactivate the frog GR. The inadequate activation of GR by corticosterone in cyp21a2 mutants was likely compensated for by sufficient corticosteroid signaling from other GR ligands to allow survival through the developmental transition from aquatic to terrestrial life.

PubMed ID: 36301177
Article link: Endocrinology

Species referenced: Xenopus tropicalis
Genes referenced: crh cyp11b2 cyp17a1 cyp21a2.1 klf9 nr3c1 pomc rpl8 slc22a18 star ush1g
GO keywords: glucocorticoid receptor activity [+]
gRNAs referenced: cyp21a2 gRNA1

Article Images: [+] show captions