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    • Article

      Induction of gonadal development in protogynous grouper with orally delivered FSH DNA 

      P Palma, J Nocillado, J Superio, EG de Jesus-Ayson, F Ayson, A Takemura, MW Lu & A Elizur - Marine Biotechnology, 2019 - Springer
      The availability of sexually mature fish often dictates the success of its captive breeding. In this study, we induced reproductive development in juvenile protogynous tiger grouper through oral administration of a plasmid (p) containing an engineered follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). An expression construct (pcDNA3.1) was designed to express a single-chain FSH consisting of giant grouper FSH β-subunit and glycoprotein subunit-α (CGα), linked by the carboxy-terminal peptide (CTP) sequence from the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Single oral delivery of pFSH encapsulated in liposome and chitosan to tiger grouper yielded a significant increase in plasma FSH protein level after 4 days. Weekly pFSH feeding of juvenile tiger groupers for 8 weeks stimulated ovarian development as indicated by a significant increase in oocyte diameter and progression of oocytes to cortical alveolar stage. As the pFSH treatment progressed from 20 to 38 weeks, female to male sex change was initiated, characterized by oocyte regression, proliferation of spermatogonial cells, and occurrence of spermatogenic cysts. It was also associated with significantly lower mRNA expression of steroidogenic genes (cyp11b, cyp19a1a, and foxl2) and basal plasma levels of sex steroid hormones 17β-estradiol (E2), testosterone (T), and 11-ketotestosterone (11KT). Results suggest that pFSH stimulates ovarian development up to cortical alveolar stage and then initiates sex change in tiger grouper. These findings significantly contribute to our knowledge on the role of FSH in the development of protogynous hermaphroditic fish. This study is the first to demonstrate induction of reproductive development in fish through oral delivery of plasmid gonadotropin.