Donizetti, A., Fiengo, M., Iazzetti, G., Del Gaudio, R., Di Giaimo, R., Pariante, P., Minucci, S., Aniello, F. (2015) Expression analysis of five zebrafish rxfp3 homologues reveals evolutionary conservation of gene expression pattern. Journal of experimental zoology. Part B, Molecular and developmental evolution. 324(1):22-9.
Relaxin peptides exert different functions in reproduction and neuroendocrine processes via interaction with two evolutionarily unrelated groups of receptors: RXFP1 and RXFP2 on one hand, RXFP3 and RXFP4 on the other hand. Evolution of receptor genes after splitting of tetrapods and teleost lineage led to a different retention rate between mammals and fish, with the latter having more gene copies compared to the former. In order to improve our knowledge on the evolution of the relaxin ligands/receptors system and have insights on their function in early stages of life, in the present paper we analyzed the expression pattern of five zebrafish RXFP3 homologue genes during embryonic development. In our analysis, we show that only two of the five genes are expressed during embryogenesis and that their transcripts are present in all the developmental stages. Spatial localization analysis of these transcripts revealed that the gene expression is restricted in specific territories starting from early pharyngula stage. Both genes are expressed in the brain but in different cell clusters and in extra-neural territories, one gene in the interrenal gland and the other in the pancreas. These two genes share expression territories with the homologue mammalian counterpart, highlighting a general conservation of gene expression regulatory processes and their putative function during evolution that are established early in vertebrate embryogenesis.