Blockade of arginine vasotocin signaling reduces aggressive behavior and c-Fos expression in the preoptic area and periventricular nucleus of the posterior tuberculum in male Amphiprion ocellaris

C. Yaeger, A. M. Ros, V. Cross, R. S. DeAngelis, D. J. Stobaugh, J. S. Rhodes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Many marine fishes change sex in response to social cues when the dominance hierarchy is perturbed. Arginine-vasotocin (AVT) and the mammalian homolog arginine vasopressin are neuropeptides involved in social and reproductive behaviors across vertebrate taxa. The goal of this study was to determine whether AVT signaling influences aggression and expression of c-Fos, a marker of neuroplasticity, in key brain regions of the social decision circuit in Amphiprion ocellaris clownfish, a species where behavioral dominance precedes gonadal sex change from male to female. In experiment 1, juvenile clownfish (average mass 2.5. g) were paired together in a tank (a total of 24 pairs), matched approximately for size with one fish randomly receiving either an intraperitoneal injection of the arginine vasopressin V1a receptor antagonist (Manning compound) or saline vehicle, and evaluated for aggressive and submissive behaviors over a 10-min period. The second experiment was a repeat of the first using five pairs of mature, reproductive males, except the animals interacted for 90-min immediately followed by euthanasia for immunohistochemical detection of c-Fos protein. Numbers of c-Fos-positive cells were quantified in the preoptic area of the hypothalamus (POA), the anterior tuberal nucleus (aTn), and periventricular nucleus of the posterior tuberculum (TPp). Manning compound significantly reduced aggression and the probability of winning the contest relative to saline (vehicle) controls. In experiment 2, saline-treated fish displayed approximately twice as many c-Fos-positive cells in the POA and 25% more in the TPp than the Manning-treated fish, no differences were observed in the aTn. Taken together, results suggest AVT signaling is necessary for aggressive behavior and expression of neuroplasticity in the POA and TPp that likely contributes to behavioral dominance and hence, sex change in A. ocellaris.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-218
Number of pages14
JournalNeuroscience
Volume267
DOIs
StatePublished - May 16 2014

Keywords

  • Aggression
  • Arginine vasopressin
  • Clownfish
  • Manning compound
  • Sex change
  • V1a receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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