The basal function of teleost prolactin as a key regulator on ion uptake identified with zebrafish knockout models

Sci Rep. 2016 Jan 4;6:18597. doi: 10.1038/srep18597.


Prolactin (PRL) is an anterior pituitary hormone with a broad range of functions. Its ability to stimulate lactogenesis, maternal behavior, growth and development, osmoregulation, and epithelial ion transport has been reported in many vertebrates. In our present study, we have targeted the zebrafish prl locus via transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs). Two independent targeted mutant lines with premature termination of the putative sequence of PRL peptides were generated. All prl-deficient zebrafish progeny died at 6-16 days post-fertilization stage (dpf) in egg water. However, the prl-deficient larvae thrived and survived through adulthood in brackish water (5175 mg/L ocean salts), without obvious defects in somatic growth or reproduction. When raised in egg water, the expression levels of certain key Na(+)/Cl(-) cotransporters in the gills and Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase subunits, Na(+)/H(+) exchangers and Na(+)/Cl(-) transporters in the pronephros of prl-deficient larvae were down-regulated at 5 dpf, which caused Na(+)/K(+)/Cl(-) uptake defects in the mutant fish at 6 dpf. Our present results demonstrate that the primary function of zebrafish prl is osmoregulation via governing the uptake and homeostasis of Na(+), K(+) and Cl(-). Our study provides valuable evidence to understand the mechanisms of PRL function better through both phylogenetic and physiological perspectives.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anion Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Base Sequence
  • Female
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Gills / cytology
  • Gills / metabolism
  • Ion Transport
  • Male
  • Osmoregulation
  • Prolactin / genetics*
  • Prolactin / metabolism
  • Sodium / metabolism
  • Zebrafish
  • Zebrafish Proteins / genetics*
  • Zebrafish Proteins / metabolism


  • Anion Transport Proteins
  • Zebrafish Proteins
  • Prolactin
  • Sodium