Evidence for transcriptional regulation of the urea transporter in the gill of the Gulf toadfish, Opsanus beta

Tamara M. Rodela, Andrew J. Esbaugh, M. Danielle McDonald, Kathleen M. Gilmour, Patrick J. Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Ureotelic Gulf toadfish (Opsanus beta) do not excrete urea continuously; instead, urea is accumulated internally until a branchial urea transport mechanism is activated to facilitate the excretion of urea in distinct pulses. This unusual pulsatile urea excretion pattern is regulated, in part, by permissive declines in circulating cortisol concentrations. The current study examined toadfish urea transporter (tUT) and glucocorticoid receptor (GR) transcript levels in toadfish gill following chronic (days) and acute (hours) changes in corticosteroid activity. Experimentally lowering circulating cortisol did not significantly alter tUT mRNA abundance but increased GR mRNA. On an acute timescale, a 6.2-fold upregulation of tUT mRNA occurred 12 to 18 h following a urea pulse event with no change in GR mRNA. In silico analysis of an isolated 1.2. kb fragment, upstream promoter region of the tUT gene, revealed 6 putative glucocorticoid response element (GRE) half sites. In vivo reporter assays of the tUT promoter fragment demonstrated relative luciferase activity was enhanced 3.4- and 9.8-fold following exposure to moderate (via a 48 h crowding stress) and high (via infusion for 48 h) cortisol. We conclude that a GRE-mediated upregulation of mRNA may be required to maintain tUT activity by offsetting post-transcriptional and/or post-translational changes that may be associated with chronically elevated plasma cortisol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)72-80
Number of pages9
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology - B Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Cortisol
  • Glucocorticoid receptor
  • Glucocorticoid response element (GRE)
  • Metyrapone
  • Mineralocorticoid receptor
  • Toadfish urea transporter (tUT)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Physiology


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