Starvation causes female-to-male sex reversal through lipid metabolism in the teleost fish, medaka (Olyzias latipes)

Yuta Sakae, Akira Oikawa, Yuki Sugiura, Masatoshi Mita, Shuhei Nakamura, Toshiya Nishimura, Makoto Suematsu, Minoru Tanaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The teleost fish, medaka (Oryzias latipes), employs the XX/XY genetic sex determination system. We show here that the phenotypic sex of medaka is affected by changes in lipid metabolism. Medaka larvae subjected to 5 days of starvation underwent female-to-male sex reversal. Metabolomic and RT-qPCR analyses indicated that pantothenate metabolism was suppressed by starvation. Consistently, inhibiting the pantothenate metabolic pathway caused sex reversal. The final metabolite in this pathway is coenzyme A, an essential factor for lipogenesis. Inhibiting fatty acid synthesis, the first step of lipogenesis, also caused sex reversal. The expression of dmrt1, a critical gene for male development, was suppressed by starvation, and a dmrt1 (Δ13) mutant did not show sex reversal under starvation. Collectively, these results indicate that fatty acid synthesis is involved in female-to-male sex reversal through ectopic expression of male gene dmrt1 under starvation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberbio050054
JournalBiology Open
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Apr


  • Fatty acid synthesis
  • Metabolome
  • Pantothenate metabolism
  • Sex reversal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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