Neurohypophysial hormone receptors were studied in primary cultures of sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) gill respiratory-like cells grown on permeable supports. This preparation was previously shown to provide a functional model for investigating the hormonal regulation of Cl- secretion. Under control conditions, the cultured monolayered epithelium had a short-circuit current (ISC) of 3.5+/-1.1 micro A x cm(-2). This current had previously been identified as an active Cl- secretion. The addition of increasing concentrations of the fish neurohypophysial hormones, arginine vasotocin (AVT) or isotocin (IT), elicited a concentration-dependent stimulation of the ISC. Maximal increases of 60.9+/-12.1% and 117.7+/-28.0% above the basal ISC value were obtained for 10(-7) M AVT and IT respectively. Half-maximal effects were obtained for 3.1 x 10(-9) M AVT and for 1.4 x 10(-9) M IT. Mucosal application of 1.0 mM diphenylalamine-2-carboxylic acid (a specific blocker of Cl- channels) after serosal addition of 5 x 10(-8) M AVT or IT inhibited not only the basal but also the stimulated current, revealing a correlation with a hormone-dependent Cl- transport. Specific V1 or V2 receptor analogues of vasopressin (mammalian hormone) were used to characterize the type of neurohypophysial hormone receptors pharmacologically. While the V1 agonist [Phe2,Orn8]-oxytocin stimulated the basal Cl- secretion with a similar profile to that of AVT or IT, the V2 agonist [Deamino1,Val4,d -Arg8]-vasopressin had no effect. The V1 antagonist [d(CH2)5 1,O-Me-Tyr2,Arg8]-vasopressin used at a concentration of 5 x 10(-7) M totally reversed the 10-8 M AVT-stimulated Cl- secretion, whereas the V2 antagonist [d(CH2)5 1,d -Ile2,Ile4,Arg8,Ala9]-vasopressin used at the same concentration had no significant effect. In contrast, similar experiments carried out in the presence of 10(-8) M IT showed that both antagonists significantly reduced the IT-stimulated Cl- secretion, with the efficiency of the V1 receptor antagonist being significantly greater than that of the V2. This study provides evidence for neurohypophysial hormone control of Cl- secretion in fish cultured gill respiratory cells. It suggests that on a physiological basis the hormonal effect is shared by the two peptides present in fish neurohypophysis (AVT and IT), acting by means of two distinct, although pharmacologically similar, V1-type receptors (according to the mammalian classification). These specific receptors are expected to play an important role in controlling ion homeostasis in seawater fish.
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