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Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2013 Jan 1;180:7-14. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2012.09.025. Epub 2012 Oct 31.

Differential regulation of GnRH ligand and receptor genes in the brain and pituitary of Atlantic cod exposed to different photoperiod.

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Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, Department of Basic Sciences and Aquatic Medicine, Oslo, Norway.


The onset of puberty and reproduction are tightly controlled by extrinsic and intrinsic inputs combined with genetically determined biological blueprints. Environmental inputs are then mediated by the brain-pituitary-gonad endocrine axis resulting in a unified output. In fish, one of the primary factors controlling the timing of sexual maturation is light, although how these signals are mediated in the brain and pituitary is not well understood. We therefore aimed to elucidate the molecular basis of the control of reproduction during the first spawning season in two year old female Atlantic cod. To this end, we measured GnRH and GnRH-R variant gene expression in brains and pituitaries collected from cod kept under four different photoperiod regimes: natural light (NL), continuous light (LL) and combined treatment of NL-LL and LL-NL. LL inhibited sexual development and spawning and LL-NL delayed sexual development and spawning. LL inhibited the spawning-related increase in brain GnRH3 and pituitary GnRH-R2a gene expression found under NL conditions, and the expression of these genes were delayed in concert with spawning of LL-NL cod. This study indicates that regulation of brain GnRH3 and pituitary GnRH-R2a genes likely mediates photoperiod induced changes in cod gonadal maturation.

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