Rainbow trout sexually mature at the end of Year 3. The form of GnRH that controls gonadotropin release in trout is salmon GnRH (sGnRH). In the tetraploid rainbow trout, two genes encode an identical sGnRH peptide. The sGnRH gene-1 produces one mRNA, whereas sGnRH gene-2 can produce more than one. This study asks whether the transcripts and their protein products are expressed in the brain and gonads and whether the pattern correlates with sexual maturity over the final year leading to first spawning. Brain sGnRH mRNA and protein were continuously present throughout the third year. We show for the first time that the long sGnRH-2 mRNA transcript is expressed in neural tissue and not exclusively in gonadal tissue. Expression of the long sGnRH-2 mRNA in the brain coincides with high levels of sGnRH peptide in the brain during a time of increased gonadal growth. Thus, the long sGnRH-2 mRNA in the brain may act to regulate sGnRH production in a stage-specific rather than a tissue-specific manner. In gonads, local sGnRH is thought to play an autocrine/paracrine role in regulating gonadal maturation and spawning. In the maturing gonads, sGnRH gene-1 and -2 are expressed intermittently. Strikingly, sGnRH peptide was not detected in the gonads at any time during Year 3. These results suggest that either the sGnRH transcripts in the gonads are not translated into protein or, if translated, the protein is rapidly released, resulting in gonadal content below 1 fM per fish.
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