Development 110: 703-11 (1990)[91209230]

Hormone-sensitive stages in the sexual differentiation of laryngeal muscle fiber number in Xenopus laevis.

M. L. Marin, M. L. Tobias & D. B. Kelley

Department of Biological Sciences, Sherman Fairchild Center, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027.

The number of muscle fibers in the vocal organ of the adult male African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis, exceeds that of adult females. This sex difference is the result of rapid fiber addition in males between the end of metamorphosis, post-metamorphic stage 0 (PM0) and PM2. At PM0, male and female frogs have similar numbers of laryngeal muscle fibers. Males then add more muscle fibers than females and achieve an adult value that is 1.7 times the female number. Males castrated at PM0 have the same fiber number as females. Ovariectomy at PM0 does not alter muscle fiber addition in females. Gonadectomy at PM2 has no effect on fiber addition in either sex. Females attain masculine muscle fiber number if their ovaries are replaced with a testis at metamorphosis. Exogenous testosterone treatment at PM0 significantly increases fiber number in females but not in males. Exogenous testosterone given at PM2 has no effect on fiber number in females but decreases fiber number in males. We conclude that the testes are necessary for the marked addition of laryngeal muscle fibers seen in male X. laevis between PM0 and PM2. The masculine pattern of muscle fiber addition can be induced in females provided with a testis. Androgen secretion from the testes most probably accounts for masculinization of laryngeal muscle fiber number. After PM2, androgens are no longer necessary for muscle fiber addition and cannot increase fiber number in females.

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