Salmo salar glucocorticoid receptors analyses of alternative splicing variants under stress conditions

Alex Romero*, Matías Vega, Natacha Santibáñez, Johana Spies, Tatiana Pérez, Ricardo Enríquez, Gudrun Kausel, Cristian Oliver, Ricardo Oyarzún, Lluis Tort, Luis Vargas-Chacoff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Cortisol is the main corticosteroid in teleosts, exerting multiple functions by activating glucocorticoid receptors (GR). Most teleost species have two GR genes, gr-1 and gr-2. Some teleost also presents two splice variants for gr-1; gr-1a and gr-1b. In this study, we report for first time the presence of 2 homeologous genes for gr-1 and gr-2, located on chromosomes 4q-13q (gr-1) and 5p-9q (gr-2) of the Salmo salar genome. Furthermore, our results describe gr-1 splice variants derived from chromosome 4 and 13, sharing typical teleost GR elements such as the 9 amino acid insertion in the DNA binding domain (DBD) and variations in the length of the ligand binding domain (LBD). Three splice variants were predicted for the gr-2 homeologous gene in chromosome 5, with differences of a 5 amino acid insertion in the DBD. We also identified an uncommon truncated gr-2 gene in chromosome 9 in salmon, which lacked the DBD and LBD domains. Finally, by designing specific primers for each predicted splice variant, we validated and evaluated the expression of their transcripts in S. salar subjected to stress caused by stocking density. Differences were observed in the expression of all identified mRNAs, revealing that gr-1 and gr-2 splice variants were upregulated in head kidney and gills of post-stressed fish. In conclusion, our findings suggest that from specific salmonid genomic duplication (125 MYA), two gene copies of each GR receptor were generated in S. salar. The identified splice variants could contribute to the variability of GR receptor complex modulation expression during stressful events, leading to variations in physiological responses in fish.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number113466
JournalGeneral and Comparative Endocrinology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • Cortisol
  • Fish stress
  • Glucocorticoid receptors
  • Salmo salar
  • Splicing variants


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