Steven, C., Lehnen, N., Kight, K., Ijiri, S., Klenke, U., Harris, W.A., and Zohar, Y. (2003) Molecular characterization of the GnRH system in zebrafish (Danio rerio): cloning of chicken GnRH-II, adult brain expression patterns and pituitary content of salmon GnRH and chicken GnRH-II. General and comparative endocrinology. 133(1):27-37.
The zebrafish has proven to be a model system with unparalleled utility in vertebrate genetic and developmental studies. Substantially less attention has been paid to the potential role that zebrafish can play in answering important questions of vertebrate reproductive endocrinology. As an initial step towards exploiting the advantages that the zebrafish model offers, we have characterized their gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) system at the molecular level. GnRHs comprise a family of highly conserved decapeptide neurohormones widely recognized to orchestrate the hormonal control of reproduction in all vertebrates. We have isolated the gene and cDNA encoding chicken GnRH-II (cGnRH-II) from zebrafish, as well as several kilobases of upstream promoter sequence for this gene. As the gene encoding salmon GnRH (sGnRH) has been previously isolated (), this is the second GnRH gene isolated from zebrafish to date. We have localized expression of these two genes in the brains of reproductively mature zebrafish using in situ hybridization. sGnRH is localized to the olfactory bulb-terminal nerve region (OB-TN), the ventral telencephalon-preoptic area (VT-POA) and, as we report here for the first time in any teleost species, the hindbrain. cGnRH-II is expressed exclusively in the midbrain, as has been found in all other jawed vertebrate species examined. Finally, the levels of both GnRH peptides in pituitaries of reproductively mature zebrafish were quantified using specific ELISAs. sGnRH pituitary peptide levels were shown to be 3- to 4-fold higher than cGnRH-II pituitary peptide. The cumulative results of these experiments allow us to conclude that zebrafish express just two forms of GnRH in a site-specific manner within the brain, and that sGnRH is the hypophysiotropic GnRH form. This work lays the foundation for further research into the control of reproduction in zebrafish, such as the functional significance of multiple GnRHs in vertebrates, and the molecular mechanisms controlling tissue-specific GnRH expression.