Growth hormone transgenesis affects osmoregulation and energy metabolism in zebrafish (Danio rerio)
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Growth hormone (GH) transgenic fish are at a critical step for possible approval for commercialization. Since this hormone is related to salinity tolerance in fish, our main goal was to verify whether the osmoregulatory capacity of the stenohaline zebrafish (Danio rerio) would be modified by GH-transgenesis. For this, we transferred GH-transgenic zebrafish (T) from freshwater to 11 ppt salinity and analyzed survival as well as relative changes in gene expression. Results show an increased mortality in T versus non-transgenic (NT) fish, suggesting an impaired mechanism of osmotic acclimation in T. The salinity effect on expression of genes related to osmoregulation, the somatotropic axis and energy metabolism was evaluated in gills and liver of T and NT. Genes coding for Na(+), K(+)-ATPase, H(+)-ATPase, plasma carbonic anhydrase and cytosolic carbonic anhydrase were up-regulated in gills of transgenics in freshwater. The growth hormone receptor gene was down-regulated in gills and liver of both NT and T exposed to 11 ppt salinity, while insulin-like growth factor-1 was down-regulated in liver of NT and in gills of T exposed to 11 ppt salinity. In transgenics, all osmoregulation-related genes and the citrate synthase gene were down-regulated in gills of fish exposed to 11 ppt salinity, while lactate dehydrogenase expression was up-regulated in liver. Na(+), K(+)-ATPase activity was higher in gills of T exposed to 11 ppt salinity as well as the whole body content of Na(+). Increased ATP content was observed in gills of both NT and T exposed to 11 ppt salinity, being statistically higher in T than NT. Taking altogether, these findings support the hypothesis that GH-transgenesis increases Na(+) import capacity and energetic demand, promoting an unfavorable osmotic and energetic physiological status and making this transgenic fish intolerant of hyperosmotic environments.
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