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Characterization of GnRH systems in Atlantic cod: cloning, brain distribution, and mechanisms of action


Early sexual maturation leads to a significant loss of body weight during the spawning season, and farmed cod of both sexes currently reach puberty as early as two years of age, before reaching commercial size.

However, development of effective treatments to delay puberty and control spawning is hampered by the lack of basic knowledge on the regulatory mechanisms controlling pubertal development in cod, most notably the neuroendocrine control where no information is available.

The main objective with this project is to characterize the different GnRH systems in the brain and pituitary of Atlantic cod, and to investigate how these are regulated. This will be done by cloning and sequencing of the different GnRH forms and their receptors, monitoring the cellular distribution and expression profiles of GnRH and their receptors in the brain and pituitary throughout pubertal development.

Furthermore, to analyze the feedback mechanisms participating in the activation of the brain-pituitary-gonad axis, we will investigate how the GnRH and GnRH receptors are regulated by steroid hormone treatments. Also, a close collaborating scientist will simultaneously investigate by electrophysiological methods the cellular mechanisms involved in basal and GnRH stimulated activity of cod gonadotropes.

In addition to providing new insights into the GnRH systems of a representative from the poorly studied order of gadiformes (Teleostei), this project should contribute to an improved understanding of the neuroendocrine regulation of pituitary function in teleost fish in general.

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