Relaxin-related gene expression differs between anadromous and stream-resident stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) following seawater transfer

Makoto Kusakabe, Asano Ishikawa, Jun Kitano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Relaxin (RLN) is a hormone that was originally identified as a regulator of pregnancy and reproduction. However, recent mammalian studies have demonstrated that relaxins also have potent osmoregulatory actions. In mammals, six relaxin family peptides have been identified: RLN1/2, RLN3, insulin-like peptide (INSL) 3, INSL4, INSL5, and INSL6. Previous genome database searches have revealed that teleosts also possess multiple relaxin family genes. However, the functions of these relaxin family peptides in teleosts remain unclear. In order to gain insight into the osmoregulatory functions of teleost relaxins, we studied the relaxin family peptides in euryhaline three-spined sticklebacks (. Gasterosteus aculeatus), which have diversified into a variety of ecotypes. Rln3a, rln3b, and rln transcripts were abundant in the stickleback brain, whereas insl5b transcript levels were highest in the intestine among tissues. Seawater challenge experiments showed that transcript levels of rln3a, rln3b, and rln in the brain changed significantly after seawater transfer. Particularly, rln3b showed different patterns of temporal changes between anadromous and stream-resident morphs. The transcript levels of relaxin family peptide receptors, rxfp1, rxfp2b, rxfp3-2a, and rxfp3-2b, did not exhibit substantial changes in the brain, although these were constantly higher in the anadromous morph than the stream-resident morph. These results suggest that stickleback relaxin systems are differentially regulated by salinity signals, at least at the transcriptional level, and anadromous and stream-resident morphs differ in relaxin signaling pathways. The differences in the expression of relaxin-related genes between these two morphs provide a foundation for further exploration of the osmoregulatory function of relaxins in teleosts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-206
Number of pages10
JournalGeneral and Comparative Endocrinology
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Sept 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Neuropeptide
  • Osmoregulation
  • Relaxin
  • Teleosts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Endocrinology


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