There is considerable evidence that the GH/IGF-I axis plays an important role in female reproduction. We report the isolation and characterization of the GH receptor (GH-R) and its gene expression profile during oogenesis in the tilapia, Oreochromis mossambicus. cDNA encoding GH-R was cloned and sequenced from the tilapia liver. The predicted GH-R preprotein consisted of 635 amino acids and contained a putative signal peptide, an extracellular region with a characteristic motif, a single transmembrane region, and a cytoplasmic region with conserved box 1 and 2 domains. The tilapia GH-R shared 34-74% identities with known GH-Rs in vertebrates. A binding assay using COS-7 cells showed that the cloned GH-R bound specifically to tilapia GH. Northern blot analysis showed a single mRNA transcript in the liver and ovary. In situ hybridization revealed intense signals of GH-R in the cytoplasm and nucleus of immature oocytes. The granulosa and theca cells surrounding vitellogenic oocytes also contained the GH-R mRNA signals. About a tenfold greater level of GH-R mRNA was found in the immature oocytes versus the mature oocytes, along with high levels of IGF-I mRNA. There were no significant changes in mRNA levels of GH-R and IGF-I in the liver or in plasma IGF-I levels during oocyte development. No correlation was found between hepatic GH-R mRNA and ovarian GH-R mRNA. These results suggest that the GH/IGF-I axis in the ovary may be involved in the early phases of oogenesis, under a different regulatory mechanism of GH-R gene expression from that of the liver.
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