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Nilli Zmora, Yukinori Kazeto, R Sampath Kumar, Rüdiger W Schulz and John M Trant

Due to the lack of purified, native gonadotropins (GtH) for almost all species of fish, we designed a system for the production of recombinant bioactive luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) using the channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) as a model animal. The strategy was to produce the three subunits composing FSH and LH, i.e. the common α-subunit (α-glycoprotein hormone (α-GP)), β-FSH, and β-LH subunit, individually in stable recombinant insect cells (S2) with C-terminal His-tag. This expression system was also used to co-express the α-subunit without the His-tag with each of the His-tagged β-subunits. The recombinant S2 cells were capable of secreting FSH and LH heterodimers and α-GP in abundance; however, expression of the individual β-subunits was much less successful. The recombinant GtHs were partially purified from the cell medium by immobilized metal affinity chromatography to ~15% purity with a yield of 7 and 4 mg per liter of medium for FSH and LH respectively. These recombinant GtHs activated their receptors in vitro, enhanced estrogen secretion, up-regulated several steroidogenic enzyme genes in channel catfish ovarian follicles, and increased androgen secretion from African catfish testis. Interestingly, the FSH and LH dose–response curves for each of these biological activities clearly demonstrate differences in their cellular action and physiological roles. This expression system may be an important development for the production of species-specific GtHs so that FSH- and LH-specific mechanisms of actions within the reproductive endocrine processes can finally be examined with homologous, albeit recombinant, hormones.

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Nilli Zmora, Ten-Tsao Wong, John Stubblefield, Berta Levavi-Sivan and Yonathan Zohar

Kisspeptin and neurokinin B (NKB) are neuropeptides co-expressed in the mammalian hypothalamus and coordinately control GnRH signaling. We have found that Nkb and kisspeptin neurons are distinct in the teleost, striped bass (STB) and capitalized on this phenomenon to study the mode of action of Nkb and its related neuropeptide-F (Nkf), both of which are encoded by the tac3 gene. In vitro brain slices and in vivo administration studies revealed that Nkb/f consistently downregulated kiss2, whereas antagonist (AntD) administration restored this effect. Overall, a minor effect was noted on gnrh1 expression, whereas Gnrh1 content in the pituitaries was reduced after Nkb/f treatment and increased with AntD. Concomitantly, immunostaining demonstrated that hypothalamic Nkb neurons border and densely innervate the largest kiss2 neuronal population in the hypothalamus, which also coexpresses Nkb receptor. No expression of Nkb receptor or Nkb neuronal projections was detected near/in Gnrh1 soma in the preoptic area. At the level of the pituitary, however, the picture was more complex: both Nkb/f and AntD upregulated lhb and fshb expression and Lh secretion in vivo. Together with the stimulatory effect of Nkb/f on Lh/Fsh secretion from pituitary cells, in vitro, this may indicate an additional independent action of Nkb/f within the pituitary, in which the hypothalamic pathway is more dominant. The current study demonstrates that Nkb/f utilizes multiple pathways to regulate reproduction in the STB and that in the brain, Nkb mainly acts as a negative modulator of kiss2 to regulate the release of Gnrh1.