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Department of Animal Sciences
The Robert H. Smith Faculty
of Agricultural, Food & Environment

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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Hausken, K. N. ; Tizon, B. ; Shpilman, M. ; Barton, S. ; Decatur, W. ; Plachetzki, D. ; Kavanaugh, S. ; Ul-Hasan, S. ; Levavi-Sivan, B. ; Sower, S. A. Cloning and characterization of a second lamprey pituitary glycoprotein hormone, thyrostimulin (GpA2/GpB5). General and Comparative Endocrinology 2018, 264, 16 - 27. Publisher's VersionAbstract
A novel heterodimeric glycoprotein hormone (GpH) comprised of alpha (GpA2) and beta (GpB5) subunits was discovered in 2002 and called thyrostimulin for its ability to activate the TSH receptor in mammals, but its central function in vertebrates has not been firmly established. We report here the cloning and expression of lamprey (l)GpB5, and its ability to heterodimerize with lGpA2 to form a functional l-thyrostimulin. The full-length cDNA of lGpB5 encodes 174 amino acids with ten conserved cysteine residues and one glycosylation site that is conserved with other vertebrate GpB5 sequences. Phylogenetic and synteny analyses support that lGpB5 belongs to the vertebrate GpB5 clade. Heterodimerization of lGpB5 and lGpA2 was shown by nickel pull-down of histidine-tagged recombinant subunits. RNA transcripts of lGpB5 were detected in the pituitary of lampreys during both parasitic and adult life stages. Intraperitoneal injection with lGnRH-III (100 μg/kg) increased pituitary lGpA2, lGpB5, and lGpHβ mRNA expression in sexually mature, adult female lampreys. A recombinant l-thyrostimulin produced by expression of a fusion gene in Pichia pastoris activated lamprey GpH receptors I and II as measured by cAMP enzymeimmunoassay. In contrast to jawed vertebrates that have pituitary LH, FSH, and TSH, our data support that lampreys only have two functional pituitary GpHs, lGpH and l-thyrostimulin, which consist of lGpA2 and unique beta subunits. It is hypothesized that lGpH and l-thyrostimulin differentially regulate reproductive and thyroid activities in some unknown way(s) in lampreys.
Hollander-Cohen, L. ; Golan, M. ; Aizen, J. ; Shpilman, M. ; Levavi-Sivan, B. Characterization of carp gonadotropins: Structure, annual profile, and carp and zebrafish pituitary topographic organization. General and Comparative Endocrinology 2018, 264, 28 - 38. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Two gonadotropins, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), are important players in the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis of vertebrates. In the present work, we describe the construction of recombinant (r) common carp (Cyprinus carpio; c) FSH (rcFSH) and LH (rcLH) using the Pichia pastoris system, the generation of specific antibodies against their respective β subunits, and their use in the development and validation of specific ELISAs. We produced carp rLH and rFSH as single-chain polypeptides, wherein the GTH subunit α was joined with either cLHβ or cFSHβ mature protein-coding sequences to form a fusion gene that encodes a yoked polypeptide, in which the GTH β-subunit forms the N-terminal part and the α-subunit forms the C-terminal part. Competitive ELISAs were developed, using primary antibodies against rcLHβ or rcFSHβ, respectively, and rcLHβα or rcFSHβα for the standard curves. The standard curves for cLH paralleled those of pituitary extracts of the homologous fish and also those of other cyprinids species like the black carp (Mylopharyngodon piceus), goldfish (Carassius auratus), silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix), and grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella). We used the specific antibodies raised against cFSH and cLH to study the specific localization of the different GTH cells in the pituitary of carp and its taxonomic relative species – the zebrafish. Both FSH and LH cells are localized in the center of the proximal pars distalis enveloping both sides of the neurohypophysis. LH cells form a continuous population throughout the PPD, while FSH cells are more loosely distributed throughout the same area and form small aggregations. Marked annual changes were encountered in gonadosomatic index (GSI), follicle diameter, mRNA levels and protein levels of FSH and LH. From September to November, all fish had low GSI, and the ovary contained previtellogenic follicles. From December, the GSI level increased and remained high until March, the follicular diameter reached its maximum in January, where the ovary contained large fully grown follicles. Thereafter, spawning occurred through March and April and ended in May, and GSI level and follicle diameter increased again; and the ovary contained mid-vitellogenic follicles. LH pituitary content and mRNA levels were low at pre- and early vitellogenesis, increasing gradually during this process to reach a peak of LH mRNA levels in mid vitellogenic ovary and a peak of LH content in fully grown ovarian follicles. However, no significant change occurred in FSH pituitary content and mRNA levels in vitellogenic fish and in fish during final maturation stages. A dramatic difference was found in the total content of each gonadotropin in the pituitary, with higher LH than FSH. Moreover, follicle diameter was positively and significantly correlated with LH pituitary content and its transcript levels – but not with the pituitary content or mRNA levels of FSH. Taken together, these results indicate that in carp, LH alone is sufficient to regulate both vitellogenesis and final oocyte maturation while FSH may have another, yet undefined role.
Biran, J. ; Levavi-Sivan, B. Endocrine Control of Reproduction, Fish. In; 2018.
Levavi-Sivan, B. ; G, D. ; A, H. Vitellogenin Level in the Plasma of Russian Sturgeon (Acipenser gueldenstaedtii) Northern Israel. Journal of Marine Science: Research & Development 2017, 7 244. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In the present study, we examined the vitellogenin (Vg) level of Russian sturgeon maintained in a relatively constant aquaculture at a water temperature of 18-22°C during growth and maturation.

An increase in Vg in the blood plasma from oocytes was found in the yellow oocytes stage to the gray oocytes stage. However, no Vg was found in the pre-vitellogenic stage. Based on the present study and previous studies on hormone control reproduction and growth, we proposed a quality model that correlated between egg development and the hormones involved in controlling vitelogenesis (VTL).

Aizen, J. ; Hollander-Cohen, L. ; Shpilman, M. ; Levavi-Sivan, B. Biologically active recombinant carp LH as a spawning-inducing agent for carp. Journal of Endocrinology 2017, 232. Publisher's Version
Sanchís-Benlloch, P. J. ; Nocillado, J. ; Ladisa, C. ; Aizen, J. ; Miller, A. ; Shpilman, M. ; Levavi-Sivan, B. ; Ventura, T. ; Elizur, A. In-vitro and in-vivo biological activity of recombinant yellowtail kingfish (Seriola lalandi) follicle stimulating hormone. General and Comparative Endocrinology 2017, 241, 41 - 49. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Biologically active recombinant yellowtail kingfish follicle stimulating hormone (rytkFsh) was produced in yeast Pichia pastoris and its biological activity was demonstrated by both in-vitro and in-vivo bioassays. Incubation of ovarian and testicular fragments with the recombinant hormone stimulated E2 and 11-KT secretion, respectively. In-vivo trial in immature female YTK resulted in a significant increase of plasma E2 levels and development of oocytes. In males at the early stages of puberty, advancement of spermatogenesis was observed, however plasma 11-KT levels were reduced when administered with rytkFsh.
Spicer, O. S. ; Zmora, N. ; Wong, T. - T. ; Golan, M. ; Levavi-Sivan, B. ; Gothilf, Y. ; Zohar, Y. The gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone (Lpxrfa) system's regulation of reproduction in the brain–pituitary axis of the zebrafish (Danio rerio)†. Biology of Reproduction 2017, 96, 1031-1042. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone (GNIH) was discovered in quail with the ability to reduce gonadotropin expression/secretion in the pituitary. There have been few studies on GNIH orthologs in teleosts (LPXRFamide (Lpxrfa) peptides), which have provided inconsistent results. Therefore, the goal of this study was to determine the roles and modes of action by which Lpxrfa exerts its functions in the brain–pituitary axis of zebrafish (Danio rerio). We localized Lpxrfa soma to the ventral hypothalamus, with fibers extending throughout the brain and to the pituitary. In the preoptic area, Lpxrfa fibers interact with gonadotropin-releasing hormone 3 (Gnrh3) soma. In pituitary explants, zebrafish peptide Lpxrfa-3 downregulated luteinizing hormone beta subunit and common alpha subunit expression. In addition, Lpxrfa-3 reduced gnrh3 expression in brain slices, offering another pathway for Lpxrfa to exert its effects on reproduction. Receptor activation studies, in a heterologous cell-based system, revealed that all three zebrafish Lpxrfa peptides activate Lpxrf-R2 and Lpxrf-R3 via the PKA/cAMP pathway. Receptor activation studies demonstrated that, in addition to activating Lpxrf receptors, zebrafish Lpxrfa-2 and Lpxrfa-3 antagonize Kisspeptin-2 (Kiss2) activation of Kisspeptin receptor-1a (Kiss1ra). The fact that kiss1ra-expressing neurons in the preoptic area are innervated by Lpxrfa-ir fibers suggests an additional pathway for Lpxrfa action. Therefore, our results suggest that Lpxrfa may act as a reproductive inhibitory neuropeptide in the zebrafish that interacts with Gnrh3 neurons in the brain and with gonadotropes in the pituitary, while also potentially utilizing the Kiss2/Kiss1ra pathway.
Simon, Y. ; Levavi-Sivan, B. ; Cahaner, A. ; Hulata, G. ; Antler, A. ; Rozenfeld, L. ; Halachmi, I. A behavioural sensor for fish stress. Aquacultural Engineering 2017, 77, 107 - 111. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Due to water turbidity, fish stress might be difficult to observe. Evaluation of fish stress by blood sampling requires removing a fish from the water, which is in itself a stressful event. Therefore, we designed and built a sensor to detect fish behaviour that reflects stress. The electronic sensor detected early signs of fish stress by scoring the fish's inactivity. LEDs and detectors are embedded on a steel wand that is held underwater by an operator. In this preliminary (feasibility) study, the new sensor was validated for Tilapia (Cichlidae) and Hybrid Striped Bass (Morone). We induced stressful situations in the fish tanks by manipulating oxygen and temperature levels. Results Lowering the temperature and oxygen levels both significantly increased the average number of signals identified by the sensor, which indicate stress. The effect of reducing water temperature from 24°C to 15°C was three times stronger than was the effect of lowering the oxygen saturation level from 85% to 50%. The difference in the number of signals between the good and stressful conditions was statistically significant, amounting to approximately eight sensor signals, 10.57 compared to 2.49 respectively. Lowering the temperature increased the mean number of signals by 5.85 and 6.06 at 85% and 50% oxygen saturation respectively, whereas lowering oxygen levels increased the mean number of signals by 2.02 and 2.23 at 24°C and 15°C, respectively. The results indicate that the stress status of cultured fish can be evaluated using the proposed behavioural sensor. The new sensor may provide an earlier indication of a problem in a fish tank or pond than was heretofore possible. This early warning can enable the fish farmer to take action before many fish are harmed.
Zmora, N. ; Wong, T. - T. ; Stubblefield, J. ; Levavi-Sivan, B. ; Zohar, Y. Neurokinin B regulates reproduction via inhibition of kisspeptin in a teleost, the striped bass. Journal of Endocrinology 2017, 233. Publisher's Version
Yom-Din, S. ; Hollander-Cohen, L. ; Aizen, J. ; Boehm, B. ; Shpilman, M. ; Golan, M. ; Hurvitz, A. ; Degani, G. ; Levavi-Sivan, B. Gonadotropins in the Russian sturgeon: Their role in steroid secretion and the effect of hormonal treatment on their secretion. PLoS ONE 2016, 11. Publisher's Version
Golan, M. ; Martin, A. O. ; Mollard, P. ; Levavi-Sivan, B. Anatomical and functional gonadotrope networks in the teleost pituitary. 2016, 6 23777. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Mammalian pituitaries exhibit a high degree of intercellular coordination; this enables them to mount large-scale coordinated responses to various physiological stimuli. This type of communication has not been adequately demonstrated in teleost pituitaries, which exhibit direct hypothalamic innervation and expression of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) in distinct cell types. We found that in two fish species, namely tilapia and zebrafish, LH cells exhibit close cell–cell contacts and form a continuous network throughout the gland. FSH cells were more loosely distributed but maintained some degree of cell–cell contact by virtue of cytoplasmic processes. These anatomical differences also manifest themselves at the functional level as evidenced by the effect of gap-junction uncouplers on gonadotropin release. These substances abolished the LH response to gonadotropin-releasing hormone stimulation but did not affect the FSH response to the same stimuli. Dye transfer between neighboring LH cells provides further evidence for functional coupling. The two gonadotropins were also found to be differently packaged within their corresponding cell types. Our findings highlight the evolutionary origin of pituitary cell networks and demonstrate how the different levels of cell–cell coordination within the LH and FSH cell populations are reflected in their distinct secretion patterns.
Golan, M. ; Hollander-Cohen, L. ; Levavi-Sivan, B. Stellate Cell Networks in the Teleost Pituitary. 2016, 6 24426. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The folliculostellate cells of the mammalian pituitary are non-endocrine cells that are implicated in long-distance communication and paracrine signaling, but to date, these cells have yet to be characterized in teleosts. We found that the stellate cells of the teleost pituitary share many common attributes with mammalian folliculostellate cells. By labeling of stellate cells in live preparations of tilapia pituitaries we investigated their distribution, association with other endocrine cells and their anatomical and functional coupling. In the pars intermedia, stellate cells were arranged around neuronal bundles and their processes extended into the pars distalis. Within the pars distalis, stellate cells formed close associations with FSH cells and, to a lesser degree, with GH and LH cells, suggesting differential paracrine regulation of the two gonadotrope populations. The production of follistatin by stellate cells further corroborates the notion of a paracrine role on FSH release. We also found stellate cells to form gap junctions that enabled dye transfer to neighboring stellate cells, implicating that these cells form a large-scale network that connects distant parts of the pituitary. Our findings represent the first wide-scale study of stellate cells in teleosts and provide valuable information regarding their functional roles in pituitary function.
Ogawa, S. ; Sivalingam, M. ; Biran, J. ; Golan, M. ; Anthonysamy, R. S. ; Levavi-Sivan, B. ; Parhar, I. S. Distribution of LPXRFa, a gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone ortholog peptide, and LPXRFa receptor in the brain and pituitary of the tilapia. Journal of Comparative NeurologyJournal of Comparative NeurologyJ. Comp. Neurol. 2016, 524, 2753 - 2775. Publisher's VersionAbstract
ABSTRACT In vertebrates, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone (GnIH), respectively, regulate reproduction in positive and negative manners. GnIH belongs to the LPXRFa family of peptides previously identified in mammalian and nonmammalian vertebrates. Studying the detailed distribution of LPXRFa as well as its receptor (LPXRFa-R) in the brain and pituitary is important for understanding their multiple action sites and potential functions. However, the distribution of LPXRFa and LPXRFa-R has not been studied in teleost species, partially because of the lack of fish-specific antibodies. Therefore, in the present study, we generated specific antibodies against LPXRFa and its receptor from Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), and examined their distributions in the brain and pituitary by immunohistochemistry. Tilapia LPXRFa-immunoreactive neurons lie in the posterior ventricular nucleus of the caudal preoptic area, whereas LPXRFa-R-immunoreactive cells are distributed widely. Double immunofluorescence showed that neither LPXRFa-immunoreactive fibers nor LPXRFa-R is closely associated or coexpressed with GnRH1, GnRH3, or kisspeptin (Kiss2) neurons. In the pituitary, LPXRFa fibers are closely associated with gonadotropic endocrine cells [expressing luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)], with adrenocorticomelanotropic cells [corticotropin (ACTH) and α-melanotropin (α-MSH)], and with somatolactin endocrine cells. In contrast, LPXRFa-R are expressed only in LH, ACTH, and α-MSH cells. These results suggest that LPXRFa and LPXRFa-R signaling acts directly on the pituitary cells independent from GnRH or kisspeptin and could play multiple roles in reproductive and nonreproductive functions in teleosts. J. Comp. Neurol. 524:2753?2775, 2016. ? 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.