The Western Mosquitofish, Gambusia affinis affnis, a sexually dimorphic internal fertilizing species of the family Poeciliidae, shows distinct sexual dimorphism in the anal fin and its axial and appendicular support.
The development of the regional vertebral differences (i.e. precaudal [vertebra bearing ribs] and caudal [vertebra bearing hemal spines]) in female and male G. a. affinis is generated through a development program of first posterionzing more anterior vertebra (formation of hemal spines more anteriorly) then antenonzing more posterior vertebra (loss of hemal spines and formation of parapophysis with pleural ribs) . This developmental program is reminiscent of effects obtained by disturbing developmental programs by exogenous treatment with retinoic acid.
Recently we generated data suggesting that all-trans retinoic acid (tRA), a non-steroidal lipophilic molecule may play a role in the regulation and patterning of sexual dimorphic phenotype(s), an area considered the domain of steroid hormones.
We wanted to identify the specific neural cell type(s) synthesizing endogenous tRA within the developing spinal cord which might coordinate sexually dimorphic patterning of spinal cord levels in G. a. affinis. To achieve this, we employed retrograde transport studies using 3,000 molecular weight (MW) dextran amine and biocytin combined with immunogold and/or lmmunohistochemistry to identify the specific neural type(s) which express tRA synthesizing enzymefs] (i.e. retinaldehyde dehydrogenase [RALDH]).