Kisspeptins, acting via GPR54, are new players in the control of reproductive axis. They have the ability to communicate with GnRH neurons sending environmental, metabolic, and gonadal signals, with the induction of GnRH and LH secretion as final effect. At present, the physiological significance of kisspeptin signaling in the gonad is poorly investigated. We cloned GPR54 receptor from the anuran amphibian Rana esculenta testis and investigated its expression in several tissues (brain, spinal cord, ovary, muscle, and kidney). In particular, the expression analysis was carried out in pituitary and testis during the annual sexual cycle. Pituitary and testicular GPR54 mRNA increased at the end of the winter stasis (February) and reached high levels during the breeding season (April). The analysis of GPR54 expression in testis was reinforced by in situ hybridization that revealed GPR54 presence in the interstitial compartment and in proliferating germ cells. Testicular GPR54 expression in February and in June was indicated to be estradiol dependent. Furthermore, in February, kisspeptin-10 (Kp-10) induced the testicular expression of both GPR54 and estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha) in a dose-dependent manner. Conversely, in March, Kp-10 had a biphasic effect on the expression of ERalpha, being inhibitory at short (1 h) and stimulatory at longer (4 h) incubation time. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that frog testis expresses GPR54 in an estradiol-dependent manner and that Kp-10 modulates the testicular expression of ERalpha; thus, the kisspeptin/GPR54 system might be locally involved in the regulation of estrogen-dependent testicular functions such as germ cell proliferation and steroidogenesis.
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Vol. 88 • No. 3