First insights about orexigenic activity and gastrointestinal tissue localization of ghrelin from Corvina drum (Cilus gilberti)
The croaker Cilus gilberti commonly known as Corvina drum is considered a target marine species for the diversification of Chilean aquaculture. To optimize culture conditions, molecular markers for appetite regulation must be examined. Ghrelin, a gastrointestinal peptide, plays a stimulatory role in the food intake of mammals and teleost fish. Nevertheless, even though the appetite-controlling system is considered relatively well conserved among vertebrates, the bioactivity of these molecules should be analyzed in each fish species. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the expression and orexigenic ability of C. gilberti ghrelin. After the pre and postprandial period, the stomach expression of ghrelin mRNA in juvenile C. gilberti was analyzed. The coding sequence of C. gilberti ghrelin was used to identify the mature peptide and then chemically synthesized. The orexigenic ability of acylated ghrelin (cgGhre) and non-acylated (D-cgGhre) ghrelin was tested in C. gilberti ju-veniles. Moreover, the blood and the gastrointestinal location of synthetic ghrelin after intraperitoneal injection were measured. The results showed that the stomach has the highest expression of ghrelin mRNA, and that ghrelin levels increased in the preprandial period and diminished after it. There were no differences in the secondary structure of D-cgGhre compared to cgGhre but the peptide with the serine acylation stabilized its unordered conformation. However, the highest cumulative feed intake occurred in fish intraperitoneally injected with cgGhre. In addition, synthetic ghrelin was maintained in the C. gilberti blood until 8 h post-injection (hpi). Finally, biotinylated ghrelin allowed localizing the synthetic peptide in digestive tissue, mainly in the stomach and pyloric caeca. The mRNA expression of the growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHS-R), also known as the ghrelin receptor, in gastrointestinal organs supports the idea of peripheral orexigenic regulation in these tissues. In conclusion, results suggest that C. gilberti ghrelin conserves the orexigenic ability reported in other teleost fish with a regulatory role in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) of the Corvina drum. This is the first report demonstrating the uptake and distribution of a small orexigenic peptide in the digestive tissues of a South American sciaenid. Although ghrelin is a promising molecular marker for feed intake analysis in C. gilberti culture, further research is needed to continue evaluating the effects of aquaculture practices on peripheral appetite signalizer.
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