In mammals, two carotenoid cleaving oxygenases are known; beta-carotene 15,15'-monooxygenase (BCMO1) and beta-carotene 9',10'-oxygenase (BCO2). BCMO1 is a key enzyme in vitamin A synthesis by symmetrically cleaving beta-carotene into 2 molecules of all-trans-retinal, while BCO2 is responsible for asymmetric cleavage of a broader range of carotenoids. Here, we show that the Atlantic salmon beta-carotene oxygenase (bco) gene family contains 5 members, three bco2 and two bcmo1 paralogs. Using public sequence databases, multiple bco genes were also found in several additional teleost species. Phylogenetic analysis indicates that bco2a and bco2b originate from the teleost fish specific genome duplication (FSGD or 3R), while the third and more distant paralog, bco2 like, might stem from a prior duplication event in the teleost lineage. The two bcmo1 paralogs (bcmo1 and bcmo1 like) appear to be the result of an ancient duplication event that took place before the divergence of ray-finned (Actinopterygii) and lobe-finned fish (Sarcopterygii), with subsequent nonfunctionalization and loss of one Sarcopterygii paralog. Gene expression analysis of the bcmo1 and bco2 paralogs in Atlantic salmon reveals regulatory divergence with tissue specific expression profiles, suggesting that the beta-carotene oxygenase subtypes have evolved functional divergences. We suggest that teleost fish have evolved and maintained an extended repertoire of beta-carotene oxygenases compared to the investigated Sarcopterygii species, and hypothesize that the main driver behind this functional divergence is the exposure to a diverse set of carotenoids in the aquatic environment.
The importance of the aquaculture production is increasing with the declining global fish stocks, but early sexual maturation in several farmed species reduces muscle growth and quality, and escapees could have a negative impact on wild populations. A possible solution to these problems is the production of sterile fish by ablation of the embryonic primordial germ cells (PGCs), a technique developed in zebrafish. Cell-specific regulation of mRNA stability is crucial for proper specification of the germ cell lineage and commonly involves microRNA (miRNA)-mediated degradation of targeted mRNAs in somatic cells. This study reports on the functional roles of conserved motifs in the 3 untranslated region (UTR) of the miRNA target gene nanos3 identified in Atlantic cod, Atlantic salmon, and zebrafish. The 3UTR of cod nanos3 was sufficient for targeting the expression of green fluorescent protein (GFP) to the presumptive PGCs in injected embryos of the three phylogenetically distant species. 3UTR elements of importance for PGC-specific expression were further examined by fusing truncated 3UTR variants of cod nanos3 to GFP followed by injections in zebrafish embryos. The expression patterns of the GFP constructs in PGCs and somatic cells suggested that the proximal U-rich region is responsible for the PGC-specific stabilization of the endogenous nanos3 mRNA. Morpholino-mediated downregulation of the RNA-binding protein Dead end (DnD), a PGC-specific inhibitor of miRNA action, abolished the fluorescence of the PGCs in cod and zebrafish embryos, suggesting a conserved DnD-dependent mechanism for germ cell survival and migration.
The myogenic enhancer factor 2 (Mef2) transcription factors are known for their role in the control of cardiac development. Here we describe the spatial and temporal expression patterns of five Atlantic cod mef2 genes designated as mef2a, mef2cI, mef2cII, mef2dI and mef2dII during cardiogenesis. Whole mount in situ hybridization showed that mef2a and mef2dI were expressed in both cardiac ring and cone prior to looping morphogenesis, while mef2dII expression was only detectable in the cardiac ring. The mef2cI and mef2cII paralogs displayed different spatial expression patterns in the heart tube with a venous and arterial pole preference, respectively. After the cardiac loop formation mef2cI was expressed in cells of the ventricle and lateral arteries, while mef2cII appeared more abundant and was also present in the atrium. Larvae raised at constant 8 °C showed malformed morphology of the lateral arteries, and the transcription of both mef2c variants was highly elevated compared to those kept at 4 °C. Acute temperature stress also resulted in deviations in the expression of the mef2c paralogs, and the treated embryos displayed defects in the developing heart, including impaired fusion of the bilateral primordia and truncated heart tubes.
The Prion protein (PRNP/Prp) plays a crucial role in transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) like Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), scrapie and mad cow disease. Notwithstanding the importance in human and animal disease, fundamental aspects of PRNP/Prp function and transmission remains unaccounted for.
Histological characterization of spinal fusions in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) has demonstrated shape alterations of vertebral body endplates, a reduced intervertebral space, and replacement of intervertebral cells by ectopic bone. However, the significance of the notochord during the fusion process has not been addressed. We have therefore investigated structural and cellular events in the notochord during the development of vertebral fusions. In order to induce vertebral fusions, Atlantic salmon were exposed to elevated temperatures from fertilization until they attained a size of 15g. Based on results from radiography, intermediate and terminal stages of the fusion process were investigated by immunohistochemistry and real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Examination of structural extracellular matrix proteins such as Perlecan, Aggrecan, Elastin, and Laminin revealed reduced activity and reorganization at early stages in the pathology. Staining for elastic fibers visualized a thinner elastic membrane surrounding the notochord of developing fusions, and immunohistochemistry for Perlecan showed that the notochordal sheath was stretched during fusion. These findings in the outer notochord correlated with the loss of Aggrecan- and Substance-P-positive signals and the further loss of vacuoles from the chordocytes in the central notochord. At more progressed stages of fusion, chordocytes condensed, and the expression of Aggrecan and Substance P reappeared. The hyperdense regions seem to be of importance for the formation of notochordal tissue into bone. Thus, the remodeling of notochord integrity by reduced elasticity, structural alterations, and cellular changes is probably involved in the development of vertebral fusions.
Mechanical stress plays a vital role in maintaining bone architecture. The process by which osteogenic cells convert the mechanical signal into a biochemical response governing bone modeling is not clear, however. In this study, we investigated how Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) vertebra responds to exercise-induced mechanical loading. Bone formation in the vertebrae was favored through increased expression of genes involved in osteoid production. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) showed that bone matrix secreted both before and during sustained swimming had different properties after increased load compared to control, suggesting that both new and old bones are affected. Concomitantly, both osteoblasts and osteocytes in exercised salmon showed increased expression of the receptor nk-1 and its ligand substance P (SP), both known to be involved in osteogenesis. Moreover, in situ hybridization disclosed SP mRNA in osteoblasts and osteocytes, supporting an autocrine function. The functional role of SP was investigated in vitro using osteoblasts depleted for SP. The cells showed severely reduced transcription of genes involved in mineralization, demonstrating a regulatory role for SP in salmon osteoblasts. Investigation of ?-tubulin stained osteocytes revealed cilia-like structures. Together with SP, cilia may link mechanical responses to osteogenic processes in the absence of a canaliculi network. Our results imply that salmon vertebral bone responds to mechanical load through a highly interconnected and complex signal and detection system, with SP as a key factor for initializing mechanically-induced bone formation in bone lacking the canaliculi system.
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