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Erin Faught, Lynsi Henrickson and Mathilakath M Vijayan

Exosomes are endosomally derived vesicles that are secreted from cells and contain a suite of molecules, including proteins and nucleic acids. Recent studies suggest the possibility that exosomes in circulation may be affecting recipient target cell function, but the modes of action are unclear. Here, we tested the hypothesis that exosomes are in circulation in fish plasma and that these vesicles are enriched with heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70). Exosomes were isolated from rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) plasma using differential centrifugation, and their presence was confirmed by transmission electron microscopy and the exosomal marker acetylcholinesterase. Plasma exosomes were enriched with Hsp70, and this stress protein was transiently elevated in trout plasma in response to a heat shock in vivo. Using trout hepatocytes in primary culture, we tested whether stress levels of cortisol, the principle corticosteroid in teleosts, regulates exosomal Hsp70 content. As expected, a 1-h heat shock (+15°C above ambient) increased Hsp70 expression in hepatocytes, and this led to higher Hsp70 enrichment in exosomes over a 24-h period. However, cortisol treatment significantly reduced the expression of Hsp70 in exosomes released from either unstressed or heat-shocked hepatocytes. This cortisol-mediated suppression was not specific to Hsp70 as beta-actin expression was also reduced in exosomes released from hepatocytes treated with the steroid. Our results suggest that circulating Hsp70 is released from target tissues via exosomes, and their release is modulated by stress and cortisol. Overall, we propose a novel role for extracellular vesicular transport of Hsp70 in the organismal stress response.

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Erin Faught and Mathilakath M Vijayan

During early development, stress or exogenous glucocorticoid (GC) administration reduces body mass in vertebrates, and this is associated with the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) activation. Although GCs also activate the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR), the physiological significance of MR activation on early developmental growth is unknown. We tested the hypothesis that activation of both GR and MR are required for postnatal growth suppression by GCs. Differential regulation of GR and MR activation was achieved by using ubiquitous GR- (GRKO) and MR- (MRKO) knockout zebrafish (Danio rerio) in combination with exogenous cortisol treatment. MR activation increased protein deposition in zebrafish larvae and also upregulated lepa and downregulated lepr transcript abundance. Cortisol treatment reduced body mass and protein content in the WT, and this corresponded with the upregulation of muscle proteolytic markers, including murf1 and redd1 by GR activation. The combined activation of MR and GR by cortisol also upregulated the gh and igf1 transcript abundance, and insulin expression compared to the WT. However, cortisol-mediated reduction in body mass and protein content required the activation of both MR and GR, as activation by GR alone (MRKO + cortisol) did not reduce the larval protein content. Collectively, our results indicate that MR activation favors protein deposition and GR activation stimulates proteolysis, while their combined activation is involved in cortisol-mediated growth suppression. Overall, this work provides insight into the physiological significance of MR activation in regulating protein deposition during early development at a systems level.