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Seasonal changes in peptide, receptor and ion channel mRNA expression in the caudal neurosecretory system of the European flounder (Platichthys flesus)

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  • Weiqun Lu
  • John Worthington
  • Daniela Riccardi
  • Richard J. Balment
  • Catherine R. McCrohan
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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>15/06/2007
<mark>Journal</mark>General and Comparative Endocrinology
Issue number1-3
Volume153
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)262-272
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The caudal neurosecretory system (CNSS) of the euryhaline flounder Platichthys flesus has suggested roles in osmoregulatory, reproductive and nutritional adaptation, as fish migrate between seawater (winter) and brackish/freshwater (summer) environments. This study examined seasonal changes in mRNA expression profile of functionally important genes in the CNSS. cDNAs encoding neuropeptides, receptors and ion channels were cloned by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and screening of a flounder CNSS cDNA library. The expression profile of cloned genes was determined by real-time RT-PCR at 2-month intervals throughout the year in CNSS from seawater-adapted fish. Plasma cortisol (measured by radioimmunoassay) showed a peak in April, the time of spawning. Expression levels of mRNA for peptides urotensins I and II (UI, UII) and corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) all showed a seasonal cycle, with lowest expression in April and highest in August-October. The expression of CRF2(UI), UT(UII) and CRF1 receptors was not correlated with corresponding peptide expression. Receptors for potential neuromodulators of CNSS activity also displayed a seasonal mRNA expression profile. Glucocorticoid, 5-hydroxytryptamine, kappa-opioid and glutamate receptor expression peaked around April, suggesting that modulation of electrical activity of the neurosecretory Dahlgren cells is of particular importance at this time. Expression of mRNA for L-type Ca(2+) and Ca-activated K(+) channels was lower during the summer months. These channels underlie electrical bursting activity in Dahlgren cells. Ion channel mRNA expression was also lower in CNSS from flounder fully adapted to freshwater as opposed to seawater, consistent with previously reported observations of reduced bursting activity in Dahlgren cells from freshwater-adapted CNSS. These findings support the hypothesis that the CNSS is functionally reprogrammed to cope with changes in physiological challenge as fish migrate between sea and estuaries in winter and spring.