In all vertebrates, GnRH regulates gonadotropin secretion through binding to a specific receptor on the surface of pituitary gonadotropes. At least two forms of GnRH exist within a single species, and several corresponding GnRH receptors (GNRHRs) have been isolated with one form being pituitary specific. In chickens, only one type of widely expressed GNRHR has previously been identified. The objectives of this study were to isolate a chicken pituitary-specific GNRHR and to determine its expression pattern during a reproductive cycle. Using a combined strategy of PCR and rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACE), a new GNRHR (chicken GNRHR2) and two splice variants were isolated in domestic fowl (Gallus gallus domesticus). Full-length GNRHR2 and one of its splice variant mRNAs were expressed exclusively in the pituitary, whereas mRNA of the other splice variant was expressed in most brain tissues examined. The deduced amino acid sequence of full-length chicken GNRHR2 reveals a seven transmembrane domain protein with 57%–65% homology to nonmammalian GNRHRs. Semiquantitative real-time PCR revealed that mRNA levels of full-length chicken GNRHR2 in the pituitary correlate with the reproductive status of birds, with maximum levels observed during the peak of lay and 4 wk postphotostimulation in females and males, respectively. Furthermore, GnRH stimulation of GH3 cells that were transiently transfected with cDNA that encodes chicken GNRHR2 resulted in a significant increase in inositol phosphate accumulation. In conclusion, we isolated a novel GNRHR and its splice variants in chickens, and spatial and temporal gene expression patterns suggest that this receptor plays an important role in the regulation of reproduction.
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