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Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2003 Jan;130(1):55-63.

Seasonal changes of responses to gonadotropin-releasing hormone analog in expression of growth hormone/prolactin/somatolactin genes in the pituitary of masu salmon.

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Division of Marine Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Fisheries Science, Hokkaido University, Hakodate, Hokkaido 041-8611, Japan.


Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is considered to stimulate secretion of growth hormone (GH), prolactin (PRL), and somatolactin (SL) at particular stages of growth and sexual maturation in teleost fishes. We therefore examined seasonal variation in the pituitary levels of GH/PRL/SL mRNAs, and tried to clarify seasonal changes of responses to GnRH in expression of GH/PRL/SL genes, in the pituitaries of growing and maturing masu salmon (Oncorhynchus masou). Pituitary samples were monthly collected one week after implantation with GnRH analog (GnRHa). The levels of mRNAs encoding GH, PRL, and SL precursors in single pituitaries were determined by a real-time polymerase chain reaction method. The fork lengths and body weights of control and GnRHa-implanted fish of both sexes gradually increased and peaked out in September of 2-year-old (2+) when fish spawned. GnRHa implantation did not stimulate somatic growth, nor elevate gonadosomatic index (GSI) of 1+ and 2+ males, whereas it significantly increased GSI of 2+ females in late August to early September. The GnRHa-implanted 1+ males had higher levels of GH and PRL mRNAs in July, and SL mRNA from June to August than the control males. The levels of GH, PRL, and SL mRNAs in the control and GnRHa-implanted 1+ females, however, did not show any significant changes. Afterward, the PRL mRNA levels elevated in the control 2+ fish of both sexes in spring. GnRHa elevated the GH mRNA levels in both males and females in 2+ winter, and the PRL mRNA levels in females in early spring. Regardless of sex and GnRHa-implantation, the SL mRNA levels increased during sexual maturation. In growing and maturing masu salmon, expression of genes encoding GH, PRL, and SL in the pituitary is thus sensitive to GnRH in particular seasons probably in relation to physiological roles of the hormones.

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