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Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2012 Mar 1;176(1):52-61. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2011.12.023. Epub 2011 Dec 29.

Cloning, phylogenetic analysis and expression of somatolactin and its receptor in Cichlasoma dimerus: their role in long-term background color acclimation.

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Departamento de Biodiversidad y Biología Experimental, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Ciudad Universitaria, C1428EHA Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Somatolactin (SL) and SL receptor (SLR) belong to the growth hormone and cytokine type I receptor superfamilies, respectively. However, further research is required to define the duplications and functions of SL and its receptors in basal vertebrates including environmental background color adaptation in fish. In the present study, we cloned and sequenced SL and its putative receptor (SLR), classified and compared the sequences phylogenetically, and determined SL and SLR mRNA expression levels during long-term background color exposure in Cichlasoma dimerus, a freshwater South American cichlid. Our results show that C. dimerus SL and SLR share high sequence similarity with homologous from other perciform fish. Phylogenetic analysis indicates that C. dimerus SL belongs to the SLα clade sub-group. C. dimerus SLR is clearly a member of the GHR1 receptor subgroup, which includes the experimentally validated SLR from salmonids. Higher transcript levels of SLα in the pituitary and SLR in the epidermis and dermis cells of fish scales were observed in fish following long-term black background color exposure compared to those exposed to a white background. A higher number of melanophores was also observed in fish exposed for 10days to a black background compared to those exposed to a white background. These changes were concomitant to differences in SL or SLR transcript levels found in fish exposed to these two different background colors. Our results suggest, for the first time, that SLR is expressed in fish scales, and that there is an increase in SL in the pituitary and the putative SLR in likely target cells, i.e., melanophores, in long-term black background exposure in C. dimerus.

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