A putative FSH receptor (FSH-R) cDNA was cloned from African catfish testis. Alignment of the deduced amino acid sequence with other (putative) glycoprotein hormone receptors and analysis of the African catfish gene indicated that the cloned receptor belonged to the FSH receptor subfamily. Catfish FSH-R (cfFSH-R) mRNA expression was observed in testis and ovary; abundant mRNA expression was also detected in seminal vesicles. The isolated cDNA encoded a functional receptor since its transient expression in human embryonic kidney (HEK-T) 293 cells resulted in ligand-dependent cAMP production. Remarkably, African catfish LH (cfLH; the catfish FSH-like gonadotropin has not been purified yet) had the highest potency in this system. From the other ligands tested, only human recombinant FSH (hrFSH) was active, showing a fourfold lower potency than cfLH, while hCG and human TSH (hTSH) were inactive. Human CG (as well as cfLH, hrFSH, eCG, but not hTSH) stimulated testicular androgen secretion in vitro but seemed to be unable to bind to the cfFSH-R. However, it was known that hCG is biologically active in African catfish (e.g., induction of ovulation). This indicated that an LH receptor is also expressed in African catfish testis. We conclude that we have cloned a cDNA encoding a functional FSH-R from African catfish testis. The cfFSH-R appears to be less discriminatory for its species-specific LH than its avian and mammalian counterparts.
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