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Int Rev Cytol. 2003;225:131-85.

Regulation of fish gonadotropins.

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Department of Zoology, Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel.


Neurohormones similar to those of mammals are carried in fish by hypothalamic nerve fibers to regulate directly follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) stimulates the secretion of FSH and LH and the expression of the glycoprotein hormone alpha (GPalpha), FSHbeta, and LHbeta, as well as their secretion. Its signal transduction leading to LH release is similar to that in mammals although the involvement of cyclic AMP-protein kinase A (cAMP-PKA) cannot be ruled out. Dopamine (DA) acting through DA D2 type receptors may inhibit LH release, but not that of FSH, at sites distal to activation of protein kinase C (PKC) and PKA. GnRH increases the steady-state levels of GPalpha, LHbeta, and FSHbeta mRNAs. Pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) 38 and neuropeptide Y (NPY) potentiate GnRH effect on gonadotropic cells, and also act directly on the pituitary cells. Whereas PACAP increases all three subunit mRNAs, NPY has no effect on that of FSHbeta. The effect of these peptides on the expression of the gonadotropin subunit genes is transduced differentially; GnRH regulates GPalpha and LHbeta via PKC-ERK and PKA-ERK cascades, while affecting the FSHbeta transcript through a PKA-dependent but ERK-independent cascade. The signals of both NPY and PACAP are transduced via PKC and PKA, each converging at the ERK level. NPY regulates only GPalpha- and LHbeta-subunit genes whereas PACAP regulates the FSHbeta subunit as well. Like those of the mammalian counterparts, the coho salmon LHbeta gene promoter is driven by a strong proximal tripartite element to which three different transcription factors bind. These include Sf-1 and Pitx-1 as in mammals, but the function of the Egr-1 appears to have been replaced by the estrogen receptor (ER). The GnRH responsive region in tilapia FSHbeta 5' flanking region spans the canonical AP1 and CRE motifs implicating both elements in conferring GnRH responsiveness. Generally, high levels of gonadal steroids are associated with high LHbeta transcript levels whereas those of FSHbeta are reduced when pituitary cells are exposed to high steroid levels. Gonadal or hypophyseal activin also participate in the regulation of FSHbeta and LHbeta mRNA levels. However, gonadal effects are dependent on the gender and stage of maturity of the fish.

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