• Thyroid hormone binding to brain nuclear extracts during smoltification in coho salmon

      Cheek, L. Michael (1991)
      Salmon complete a metamorphosis called smoltification prior to entering salt water. Increased thyroid activity, olfactory imprinting, and chemical and structural changes in the brain are known to occur at this time. This study was undertaken to determine if triiodothyronine (T$\sb3$) binding to brain nuclear extracts changes during smoltification. During this investigation serum thyroxine (T$\sb4$) concentrations increased three fold during smoltification coincident with changes in coloration and morphology and surged again during downstream migration to six times presmolt concentrations. Using ultrafiltration assays, homologous displacement experiments of KCl extracts of recovered brain cell nuclei indicated that maximal binding capacity increased during smoltification and down-stream migration. The increase in receptor concentration lagged the increase in serum thyroxine by one week. Dissociation constants increased during smolt transformation but declined abruptly during down-stream migration. However, dissociation constants did not change during smoltification if nuclear extracts had been previously incubated at room temperature to remove endogenous ligand. Dissociation rate increased significantly, coincident with the increase in receptor concentration measured by homologous displacement. The maximal probable percent occupancy of available receptors increased from 60% before to greater than 95% during the smolt transformation climax. These results provide evidence that thyroid hormone receptors participate in brain development and olfactory imprinting in smolting salmon.