The male effect is a well-known phenomenon in female sheep and goats whereby a pheromone-induced activation of reproductive function occurs. However, the molecule(s) involved in this phenomenon are unknown. We investigated gene expression profiles for the induction of male effect pheromone synthesis using a PCR-based cDNA subtraction strategy. We constructed two subtracted cDNA libraries using mRNA from the skin of the head or rump region of orchidectomized male goats with or without pheromone induction using testosterone or dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Both libraries were assumed to contain genes whose expression increases with pheromone induction. Clones (n = 480) from each library were sequenced and identified using BLAST to reveal 115 and 239 types of sequences in the libraries of the head and rump region, respectively. Among these, 12 genes were expressed in both libraries. We conducted real-time PCR to further analyze their expression using cDNA samples derived from pheromone-producing or nonproducing skin from the head of an ovariectomized female goat with or without DHT implantation, respectively. For nine genes, we observed significantly increased expression in samples following DHT implantation. Among these, stearoyl-CoA desaturase 1 (SCD1) and elongation of long chain fatty acids family member 5 (ELOVL5) genes showed more than 100-fold higher expression levels in pheromone-positive samples, suggesting that the products of these genes may be important in pheromone synthesis.
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Vol. 77 • No. 1