Proopiomelanocortin (POMC) cDNA was cloned from sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) pituitary gland. A 743 nucleotide sequence was obtained coding for the following sequences flanked by sets of proteolytic cleavage sites: ACTH (Ser(88)-Met(127)), alpha-MSH (Ser(88)-Gly(102)), CLIP (Pro(106)-Met(127)), beta-LPH (Glu(131)-Gln(208)), gamma-LPH (Glu(131)-Ser(175)), beta-MSH (Asp(159)-Ser(175)), and beta-endorphin (Tyr(178)-Gln(208)). No region homologous to gamma-MSH/joining peptide (a tetrapod POMC feature) was found. Amino acid sequence identity was high with other teleostean species considered (tilapia: 73%) and lower with elasmobranchs (dogfish: 42%). However, the presumed biologically active peptides were highly conserved within all species considered: alpha-MSH (93-100%), ACTH (80-95%) and beta-endorphin (54-90%). Real-time PCR allowed us to quantify the expression of the POMC in different tIssues of the sea bass: pituitary gland, liver, gonad and head kidney. No significant POMC expression was found in the integument. In pituitary gland, gonads, head kidney and liver, POMC expression was respectively, 1.26x10(10), 2.67x10(5), 2.06x10(4) and 1.67x10(4) copies/ micro g mRNA.
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