11-Deoxycortisol controls hydromineral balance in the most basal osmoregulating vertebrate, sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus)
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SourceScientific Reports | (2020) 10:12148
It is unknown whether and how osmoregulation is controlled by corticosteroid signaling in the phylogenetically basal vertebrate group Agnatha, including lampreys and hagfishes. It is known that a truncated steroid biosynthetic pathway in lampreys produces two predominant circulating corticosteroids, 11-deoxycortisol (S) and 11-deoxycorticosterone (DOC). Furthermore, lampreys express only a single, ancestral corticosteroid receptor (CR). Whether S and/or DOC interact with the CR to control osmoregulation in lampreys is still unknown. We examined the role of the endogenous corticosteroids in vivo and ex vivo in sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) during the critical metamorphic period during which sea lamprey increase osmoregulatory capacity and acquire seawater (SW) tolerance. We demonstrate in vivo that increases in circulating [S] and gill CR abundance are associated with increases in osmoregulatory capacity during metamorphosis. We further show that in vivo and ex vivo treatment with S increases activity and expression of gill active ion transporters and improves SW tolerance, and that only S (and not DOC) has regulatory control over active ion transport in the gills. Lastly, we show that the lamprey CR expresses an ancestral, spironolactone-as-agonist structural motif and that spironolactone treatment in vivo increases osmoregulatory capacity. Together, these results demonstrate that S is an osmoregulatory hormone in lamprey and that receptor-mediated discriminative corticosteroid regulation of hydromineral balance is an evolutionarily basal trait among vertebrates.