In higher vertebrates, anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) is required for Müllerian duct regression in fetal males. AMH is also produced during postnatal life in both sexes regulating steroidogenesis and early stages of folliculogenesis. Teleosts lack Müllerian ducts, but Amh has been identified in several species including European sea bass. However, information on Amh type-2 receptor (Amhr2), the specific receptor for Amh binding, is restricted to a couple of fish species. Here, we report on cloning sea bass amhr2, the production of a recombinant sea bass Amh, and the functional analysis of this ligand-receptor couple. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that sea bass amhr2 segregates with Amhr2 from other vertebrates. This piscine receptor is capable of activating Smad proteins. Antibodies raised against sea bass Amh were used to study native and recombinant Amh, revealing proteins in the range of 66–70 kDa corresponding to the full length Amh. Once proteolytically treated, recombinant sea bass Amh generates a 12 kDa C-terminal mature protein, suggesting that contrary to what has been described for other fish Amh proteins, this protein is processed in a similar way as mammalian AMH. The mature sea bass Amh is a biologically active protein able to bind sea bass Amhr2 and, surprisingly, also human AMHR2. In prepubertal sea bass testes, Amh was detected by immunohistochemistry mostly in Sertoli cells surrounding early germ-cell generations. During spermatogenesis, a weaker staining signal could be observed in Sertoli cells surrounding spermatocytes.
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Vol. 94 • No. 6