To address the complexity of the origin of the GnRH system in perciforms, we investigated the ontogenic expression of three GnRHs in gilthead seabream. Using in situ hybridization, chicken (c) GnRH-II mRNA-expressing cells were detected in the hindbrain at 1.5 days postfertilization (DPF) and in the midbrain at 2 DPF and thereafter; the hindbrain signals became undetectable after 10 DPF. Salmon (s) GnRH mRNA-expressing cells were first seen in the olfactory placode at 3 DPF, started caudal migration at 14 DPF, and reached the preoptic areas at 59 DPF. Seabream (sb) GnRH mRNA-expressing cells were first detected in the terminal nerve ganglion cells (TNgc), ventral part of the ventral telencephalon, nucleus preopticus parvocellularis, and thalamus at 39 DPF, and extended to the nucleus preopticus magnocellularis at 43 DPF, ventrolateral hypothalamus at 51 DPF, and nucleus lateralis tuberis and posterior tuberculum at 59 DPF. Coexpression of sbGnRH and sGnRH transcripts was found in the TNgc. Using real-time fluorescence-based quantitative polymerase chain reaction, transcript levels of cGnRH-II and sGnRH were first detected at 1 and 1.5 DPF, respectively, and increased and remained high thereafter. Transcript levels of sbGnRH remained low after first detection at 1 DPF. Furthermore, these GnRH expression profiles were correlated with the expression profiles of reproduction-related genes in which at least four concomitant increases of GnRH, GnRH receptor, gonadotropin, gonadotropin receptor, and Vasa transcripts were found at 5, 8, 14, and 28 DPF. Our data provide an expanded view of the ontogeny of the GnRH system and reproductive axis in perciforms.
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