The stress response in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.): identification and functional characterization of the corticotropin-releasing factor (crf) paralogs
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionGeneral and Comparative Endocrinology. 2021, 313, 113894. 10.1016/j.ygcen.2021.113894
Corticotropin-Releasing Factor (CRF) is one of the main mediators of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary–Interrenal (HPI) axis to stress response. In Atlantic salmon, a comparative understanding of the crf1 paralogs role in the stress response is still incomplete. Our database searches have identified four crf1 genes in Atlantic salmon, named crf1a1, crf1a2, crf1b1 and crf1b2. Brain distribution analysis revealed that the four crf1 paralogs were widely distributed, and particularly abundant in the telencephalon, midbrain, and hypothalamus of Atlantic salmon post-smolts. To increase the knowledge on crf1-mediated response to stress, Atlantic salmon post-smolts were exposed to either repeated chasing, hypoxia or a combination of chasing and hypoxia for eight days, followed by a novel-acute stressor, confinement. Cortisol, glucose, lactate, and creatinine levels were used as markers for the stress response. The crf1 paralogs mRNA abundance showed to be dependent on the stress exposure regime. Both crf1 mRNA levels in the telencephalon and crf1a1 mRNA levels in the hypothalamus showed similar response profiles to the serum cortisol levels, i.e., increasing levels during the first 24 h after stress exposure followed by a decline during the eight-day exposure. The similar trend between crf1 and cortisol disappeared once exposed to the novel-acute stressor. There was a minor response to stress for both crf1b1 and crf1b2 in the hypothalamus, while no changes at mRNA level were observed in the hypothalamic crf1a2 under the different stress conditions. No or weak relationship was found between the crf1 paralogs mRNA expression and the other serum stress-indicators analysed. In summary, our data provide novel insights on the dynamic of the HPI axis activation in Atlantic salmon, and thus underline the involvement of the crf1 paralogs as additional factors in the regulation of the stress response in this species. Likewise, the data highlight the importance of analysing all crf1 paralogues response to a stress-condition, in particular in this premature knowledge stage of their functionality. Further analysis and a more detailed time-point series will help to elucidate the response of the HPI axis and the link of crf1 paralogs in the stress response mechanism.