The pituitary gland of the European eel reveals massive expression of genes involved in the melanocortin system.

TitleThe pituitary gland of the European eel reveals massive expression of genes involved in the melanocortin system.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsAger-Wick, E, Dirks, RP, Burgerhout, E, Nourizadeh-Lillabadi, R, de Wijze, DL, Spaink, HP, van den Thillart, GEEJM, Tsukamoto, K, Dufour, S, Weltzien, F-A, Henkel, CV
JournalPLoS One
Date Published2013
KeywordsAmino Acid Sequence, Anguilla, Animals, Female, Gene Expression, Gene Ontology, Melanocortins, Molecular Sequence Data, Pituitary Gland, Pro-Opiomelanocortin, Transcriptome

Hormones secreted from the pituitary gland regulate important processes such as development, growth and metabolism, reproduction, water balance, and body pigmentation. Synthesis and secretion of pituitary hormones are regulated by different factors from the hypothalamus, but also through feedback mechanisms from peripheral organs, and from the pituitary itself. In the European eel extensive attention has been directed towards understanding the different components of the brain-pituitary-gonad axis, but little is known about the regulation of upstream processes in the pituitary gland. In order to gain a broader mechanistic understanding of the eel pituitary gland, we have performed RNA-seq transcriptome profiling of the pituitary of prepubertal female silver eels. RNA-seq reads generated on the Illumina platform were mapped to the recently assembled European eel genome. The most abundant transcript in the eel pituitary codes for pro-opiomelanocortin, the precursor for hormones of the melanocortin system. Several genes putatively involved in downstream processing of pro-opiomelanocortin were manually annotated, and were found to be highly expressed, both by RNA-seq and by qPCR. The melanocortin system, which affects skin color, energy homeostasis and in other teleosts interacts with the reproductive system, has so far received limited attention in eels. However, since up to one third of the silver eel pituitary's mRNA pool encodes pro-opiomelanocortin, our results indicate that control of the melanocortin system is a major function of the eel pituitary.

Alternate JournalPLoS ONE
PubMed ID24130881
PubMed Central IDPMC3795071