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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Reproduction Research

Title: Comment. The Comparative and Evolutionary Biology of Vertebrate Aromatase

item Conley, Alan
item Ford, Johny

Submitted to: Journal of Experimental Zoology
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/1/2009
Publication Date: 6/1/2009
Citation: Conley, A.J., Ford, J.J. 2009. Comment. The Comparative and Evolutionary Biology of Vertebrate Aromatase. Journal of Experimental Zoology. 311A(5):313.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Aromatase is the enzyme responsible for the synthesis of estrogens from androgens. It is doubtful that there are many other genes that have such a broad and profound influence on reproduction and survival of species. The expression of this enzyme in various tissues controls both directly and indirectly the balance of sex steroid hormones at all stages of life. Aromatase expression influences reproductive development, fertility and the regulation of reproductive processes in the brain and hypothalamus, reproductive tract and the gonads. Aromatases from all vertebrate classes have been cloned, and various aspects of their molecular function, structural biology and organismal physiology have been elucidated over the past decade and half. Studies in fish, birds, domestic livestock and even reptilian species have been particularly important in identifying those biological processes impacted by products of aromatase that are fundamental to sustaining aquaculture and agriculture worldwide. This remarkable enzyme plays a key role in sexual differentiation and endocrine disruption (fish, reptiles and amphibians), reproductive behavior and function (birds, mammals) and even evolution of reproductive strategies (mammals). The three articles published in this issue review recent knowledge of the role played by aromatase in reproductive development and function in reptiles, birds and mammals. They discuss the molecular and biochemical advances in our understanding the biology of the enzyme, and the physiological, ecological and potential evolutionary consequences its function has for all major classes of vertebrate organisms. Despite the central importance in reproduction and thus the maintenance of species, there has been no symposium addressing aromatase structure, biochemistry and physiology across vertebrate classes; a comparative discussion of vertebrate aromatases has been long overdue. The three articles in this issue were presented at a mini-symposium at the International Congress on Comparative Physiology & Biochemistry, in Salvador, Brazil, August 12–17th, 2007, and represent an attempt to draw together both biochemistry and physiology of interest to developmental, cellular and animal biologists, neurologists and behavioral biologists, toxicologists, endocrinologists and evolutionary biologists. It is hoped that the following reviews might generate impetus for similar future meetings. The organizers are grateful to the participants for their effort, all who attended the sessions for their interest, and to the USDA for partial support.

Last Modified: 06/23/2017
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