Ontogeny of urea and ammonia transporters in mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus) early life stages

Y. Wang, C. Pasparakis, E. M. Mager, J. D. Stieglitz, D. Benetti, M. Grosell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The mechanism(s) of ammonia and urea excretion in freshwater fish have received considerable attention; however, parallel investigations of seawater fish, specifically in the early life stages are scarce. The first objective of this study was to evaluate the patterns of ammonia and urea excretion in mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus) up to 102 hours post fertilization (hpf). Similar to other teleosts, mahi embryos are ureotelic before hatch and gradually switch to being ammoniotelic around the time of hatch. The second objective was to characterize mRNA levels of ammonia transporters (Rhag, Rhbg, Rhcg1 and Rhcg2), as well as urea transporter (UT) and sodium hydrogen exchangers (NHE3 and NHE2) during mahi development. As predicted, the mRNA levels of the Rhesus glycoprotein (Rh) genes, especially Rhag, Rhbg and the UT gene were highly consistent with the ontogeny of ammonia and urea excretion rates. Further, the localization of each transporter was examined in larvae collected at 60 and 102 hpf using in situ hybridization. Rhag was expressed in the gills, yolk sac, and operculum. Rhbg was expressed in the gills and upper mouth. Rhcg1 and NHE3 were co-localized in the sub-operculum, and Rhcg2 was expressed in the skin. Together, these results indicate that urea excretion is critical for ammonia detoxification during embryonic development and that Rh proteins are involved in ammonia excretion via gills and yolk sac, possibly facilitated by NHE3.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-24
Number of pages7
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology -Part A : Molecular and Integrative Physiology
StatePublished - Mar 2019


  • Gills
  • NHE
  • Rhesus glycoproteins
  • Seawater fish
  • Skin
  • UT

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology


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