HSD3B catalyzes the synthesis of δ4 steroids such as progesterone in the adrenals and gonads. Individuals lacking HSD3B2 activity experience congenital adrenal hyperplasia with imbalanced steroid synthesis. To develop a zebrafish model of HSD3B deficiency, we characterized 2 zebrafish hsd3b genes. Our phylogenetic and conserved synteny analyses showed that the tandemly duplicated human HSD3B1 and HSD3B2 genes are coorthologs of zebrafish hsd3b1 on chromosome 9 (Dre9), whereas the gene called hsd3b2 resides on Dre20 in an ancestral chromosome segment, from which its ortholog was lost in the tetrapod lineage. Zebrafish hsd3b1(Dre 9) was expressed in adult gonadsandheadkidney, which contains interrenal glands, the zebrafish counterpart of the tetrapod adrenal. Knockdown of hsd3b1(Dre 9) caused the interrenal and anterior pituitary to expand and pigmentation to increase, resembling human HSD3B2 deficiency. The zebrafish hsd3b2(Dre 20) gene was expressed in zebrafish early embryos as maternal transcripts that disappeared 1 day after fertilization. Morpholino inactivation of hsd3b2(Dre 20) led to embryo elongation, which was rescued by the injection of hsd3b2 mRNA. Thus, zebrafish hsd3b2(Dre 20) evolved independently of hsd3b1(Dre 9) with a morphogenetic function during early embryogenesis. Zebrafish hsd3b1(Dre 9), on the contrary, functions like mammalian HSD3B2, whose deficiency leads to congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
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