Characterization and distribution of GHRH, PACAP, TRH, SST and IGF1 mRNAs in the green iguana
Abstract The somatotropic axis (SA) regulates numerous aspects of vertebrate physiology such as development, growth, and metabolism and has influence on several tissues including neural, immune, reproductive and gastric tract. Growth hormone (GH) is a key component of SA, it is synthesized and released mainly by pituitary somatotrophs, although now it is known that virtually all tissues can express GH, which, in addition to its well-described endocrine roles, also has autocrine/paracrine/intracrine actions. In the pituitary, GH expression is regulated by several hypothalamic neuropeptides including GHRH, PACAP, TRH and SST. GH, in turn, regulates IGF1 synthesis in several target tissues, adding complexity to the system since GH effects can be exerted either directly or mediated by IGF1. In reptiles, little is known about the SA components and their functional interactions. The aim of this work was to characterize the mRNAs of the principal SA components in the green iguana and to develop the tools that allow the study of the structural and functional evolution of this system in reptiles. By employing RT-PCR and RACE, the cDNAs encoding for GHRH, PACAP, TRH, SST and IGF1 were amplified and sequenced. Results showed that these cDNAs coded for the corresponding protein precursors of 154, 170, 243, 113, and 131 amino acids, respectively. Of these, GHRH, PACAP, SST and IGF1 precursors exhibited a high structural conservation with respect to its counterparts in other vertebrates. On the other hand, iguana's TRH precursor showed 7 functional copies of mature TRH (pyr-QHP-NH 2 ), as compared to 4 and 6 copies of TRH in avian and mammalian proTRH sequences, respectively. It was found that in addition to its primary production site (brain for GHRH, PACAP, TRH and SST, and liver for IGF1), they were also expressed in other peripheral tissues, i.e. testes and ovaries expressed all the studied mRNAs, whereas TRH and IGF1 mRNAs were observed ubiquitously in all tissues considered. These results show that the main SA components in reptiles of the Squamata Order maintain a good structural conservation among vertebrate phylogeny, and suggest important physiological interactions (endocrine, autocrine and/or paracrine) between them due to their wide peripheral tissue expression. Highlights The mRNAs sequences of GHRH, PACAP, TRH, SST and IGF1 in the iguana were analyzed. The iguana TRH precursor codes for seven functional copies of mature TRH. GHRH showed a greater divergence between vertebrates compared to PACAP. mRNAs coding for somatotropic neuropeptides are produced in several peripheral tissues.
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