Semester of Graduation

December 2022


Master of Building Science (MBS)


Life Sciences

Document Type



Feeding and energetics are fundamental processes in all species that must also be balanced with reproductive investment. The peptide hormone nesfatin-1 is encoded by the nucleobindin-2(nucb2) gene and has recently emerged as a key player involved in both feeding and reproduction across vertebrates. How nesfatin-1 might help regulate trade-offs between feeding and reproduction, however, are relatively unexplored. The female cichlid fish Astatotilapia burtoniis an ideal system to examine the role of nesfatin-1 in regulating metabolic and reproductive functions because this species cycles between a gravid feeding state while preparing to mate, followed by a forced starvation state while they carry a clutch of ~10-50 developing young in their mouths for ~2 weeks. We used in situ hybridization to localize nucb2-expressing cells in discrete nuclei of the brain, many of which have roles in metabolism, reproduction, and parental care. The number and size of nucb2-expressing cells differed in the brain of mouthbrooding, starved, and fed females, but only in specific nuclei. RT-PCR also revealed widespread expression of nucb2in many body tissues, suggesting pleiotropic functions. Using qPCR, we also show that nucb2mRNA levels in the liver and stomach are different among the three female groups suggesting peripheral regulation. Collectively, this work provides important comparative information towards better understanding the role and evolution of nucb2/nesfatin-1 regulatory pathways.



Committee Chair

Dr. Karen Maruska