To obtain basic information on the endocrine mechanisms underlying sex change in the protandrous anemonefish Amphiprion clarkii, we examined the immunolocalization of the steroidogenic enzyme cytochrome 11β-hydroxylase (P45011β), which is involved in 11-ketotestosterone (11-KT) production, and analyzed the ability of gonads to produce steroid hormones throughout the sex differentiation process and at the breeding stage. Immunopositive reactions against P45011β appeared in sexually undifferentiated gonads at 30 days post hatching (dph). The number of immunopositive cells continued to increase during ovarian differentiation (from 60 to 180 dph) and throughout the formation of ambisexual gonads with both ovarian and testicular tissue until 270 dph. In the male phase, strongly immunopositive cells were observed in the cellular interstices of both testicular and ovarian tissues. P45011β was localized only in the theca cells enclosing developed oocytes in the female phase. In-vitro 11-KT production in the gonads gradually increased with testicular differentiation (before, during, and after differentiation). Production of 11-KT in the gonads was higher in the male phase than during testicular differentiation or in the female phase. Our results suggest that androgen is involved in testicular differentiation during sex differentiation and spermatogenesis.
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