Postembryonic development of a larval tadpole into a juvenile frog involves the coordinated action of thyroid hormone (TH) across a diversity of tissues. Changes in the frog transcriptome represent a highly sensitive endpoint in the detection of developmental progression, and for the identification of environmental chemical contaminants that possess endocrine disruptive properties. Unfortunately, in contrast with their vital role as sentinels of environmental change, few gene expression tools currently exist for the majority of native North American frog species. We have isolated seven expressed gene sequences from the Northern green frog (Rana clamitans melanota) that encode proteins associated with TH-mediated postembryonic development and global stress response, and established a quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assay. We also obtained three additional species-specific gene sequences that functioned in the normalization of the expression data. Alterations in mRNA abundance profiles were identified in up to eight tissues during R. clamitans postembryonic development, and following exogenous administration of TH to premetamorphic tadpoles. Our results characterize tissue distribution and sensitivity to TH of select mRNA of a common North American frog species and support the potential use of this qPCR assay in identification of the presence of chemical agents in aquatic environments that modulate TH action.
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Vol. 30 • No. 5