Zebrafish (Danio rerio) have receptors homologous to the human PTH (hPTH)/PTHrP receptor (PTH1R) and PTH-2 receptor (PTH2R) and an additional receptor (PTH3R) with high homology to the PTH1R. To find natural ligands for zPTH1R and zPTH3R, we searched the zebrafish genomic database and discovered two distinct regions that, when translated (zPTH1 and zPTH2), showed high homology to hPTH. Isolation of cDNAs and determination of the intron/exon boundaries revealed genomic structures which were similar to known PTHs. Peptides consisting of the first 34 amino acids after the pre- and prosequences of the zebrafish PTHs (zPTHs) were synthesized and were shown to be fully active at the hPTH1R. zPTH2(1-34) was, however, approximately 30-fold less potent at the zPTH1R than hPTH(1-34), hPTHrP(1-36), and zPTH1(1-34). When tested with zPTH3R, zPTH1(1-34) and hPTHrP(1-36) showed similar potencies, whereas the potency of zPTH2(1-34) was moderately (3-fold) reduced. To determine whether other fishes have multiple PTHs, we searched the genomic database of the Japanese pufferfish (Takifugu rubripes) and identified zPTH1 and zPTH2 homologs. Phylogenetic analysis showed that PTHs from zebrafish and pufferfish are more closely related to each other than to known mammalian PTH homologs or to PTHrP and tuberoinfundibular peptide of 39 residues. This is consistent with evolution of two teleost PTH-like peptides occurring after the evolutionary divergence between fishes and mammals. Overall, the PTH system appears more complex in fishes than in mammals, providing evidence of continued evolution in nontetrapod species. The availability of multiple forms of fish PTH and their receptors provide additional tools for PTH ligand/receptor structure-function studies.
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