Increased polyamine levels and maintenance of γ-aminobutyric acid (Gaba) homeostasis in the gills is indicative of osmotic plasticity in killifish

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The Fundulus genus of killifish includes species that inhabit marshes along the U.S. Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico, but differ in their ability to adjust rapidly to fluctuations in salinity. Previous work suggests that euryhaline killifish stimulate polyamine biosynthesis and accumulate putrescine in the gills during acute hypoosmotic challenge. Despite evidence that polyamines have an osmoregulatory role in euryhaline killifish species, their function in marine species is unknown. Furthermore, the consequences of hypoosmotic-induced changes in polyamine synthesis on downstream pathways, such as ƴ-aminobutyric acid (Gaba) production, have yet to be explored. Here, we examined the effects of acute hypoosmotic exposure on polyamine, glutamate, and Gaba levels in the gills of a marine (F. majalis) and two euryhaline killifish species (F. heteroclitus and F. grandis). Fish acclimated to 32 ppt or 12 ppt water were transferred to fresh water, and concentrations of glutamate (Glu), Gaba, and the polyamines putrescine (Put), spermidine (Spd), and spermine (Spm) were measured in the gills using high-performance liquid chromatography. F. heteroclitus and F. grandis exhibited an increase in gill Put concentration, but showed no change in Glu or Gaba levels following freshwater transfer. F. heteroclitus also accumulated Spd in the gills, whereas F. grandis showed transient increases in Spd and Spm levels. In contrast, gill Put, Spm, Glu, and Gaba levels decreased in F. majalis following freshwater transfer. Together, these findings suggest that increasing polyamine levels and maintaining Glu and Gaba levels in the gills may enable euryhaline teleosts to acclimate to shifts in environmental salinity.

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Comparative biochemistry and physiology. Part A, Molecular & integrative physiology

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