Background: Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) is responsible for stimulation of gonadotropic hormone (GtH) in the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis (HPG). The regulatory mechanisms responsible for brain specificity make the promoter attractive for in silico analysis and reporter gene studies in zebrafish (Danio rerio).
Results: We have characterized a zebrafish [Trp7, Leu8] or salmon (s) GnRH variant, gnrh3. The gene includes a 1.6 Kb upstream regulatory region and displays the conserved structure of 4 exons and 3 introns, as seen in other species. An in silico defined enhancer at -976 in the zebrafish promoter, containing adjacent binding sites for Oct-1, CREB and Sp1, was predicted in 2 mammalian and 5 teleost GnRH promoters. Reporter gene studies confirmed the importance of this enhancer for cell specific expression in zebrafish. Interestingly the promoter of human GnRH-I, known as mammalian GnRH (mGnRH), was shown capable of driving cell specific reporter gene expression in transgenic zebrafish.
Conclusions: The characterized zebrafish Gnrh3 decapeptide exhibits complete homology to the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) GnRH-III variant. In silico analysis of mammalian and teleost GnRH promoters revealed a conserved enhancer possessing binding sites for Oct-1, CREB and Sp1. Transgenic and transient reporter gene expression in zebrafish larvae, confirmed the importance of the in silico defined zebrafish enhancer at -976. The capability of the human GnRH-I promoter of directing cell specific reporter gene expression in zebrafish supports orthology between GnRH-I and GnRH-III.