Growth hormone regulates opsin expression in the retina of a salmonid fish.J Neuroendocrinol 2019; :e12804JN
Colour vision relies on retinal photoreceptors that express a different predominant visual pigment protein (opsin). In several vertebrates, the primary opsin expressed by a photoreceptor can change throughout ontogeny, although the molecular factors that influence such regulation are poorly understood. One of these factors is thyroid hormone which, together with its receptors, modulates opsin expression in the retinas of multiple vertebrates including rodents and salmonid fishes. In the latter, thyroid hormone induces a switch in opsin expression from SWS1 (ultraviolet light sensitive) to SWS2 (short wavelength or blue light sensitive) in the single cone photoreceptors of the retina. The actions of other hormones on opsin expression have not been investigated. In the present study, we used a transgenic strain of coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kitsutch) with enhanced levels of circulating growth hormone compared to that of wild siblings to assess the effects of this hormone on the SWS1 to SWS2 opsin switch. Transgenic fish showed a developmentally accelerated opsin switch compared to size-matched controls as assessed by immunohistological and in situ hybridisation labelling of photoreceptors and by quantification of transcripts using quantitative polymerase chain reaction. This accelerated switch led to a different spectral sensitivity maximum, under a middle to long wavelength adapting background, from ultraviolet (λmax ~ 380 nm) in controls to short wavelengths (λmax ~ 430 nm) in transgenics, demonstrating altered colour vision. The effects of growth hormone over-expression were independent of circulating levels of thyroid hormone (triiodothyronine), the hormone typically associated with opsin switches in vertebrates.