Behaviour 2019
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Role of nesfatin-1 in energetic state and maternal mouthbrooding in a cichlid
Saachi Chugh1, Jonathan Tabora2, Karen Maruska 3. 1Louisiana State University , Baton Rouge, LA, United States; 2Louisiana State University , Baton Rouge, LA, United States; 3Louisiana State University , Baton Rouge, LA, United States

Feeding and reproduction are complex fundamental processes regulated by hormones acting via central and peripheral mechanisms. A relatively new candidate peptide, nesfatin-1 (encoded by nucb2 gene), has emerged as a key player involved in both feeding and reproduction. How nesfatin-1 might help regulate these trade-offs, however, is unexplored. The female cichlid fish Astatotilapia burtoni is ideal to examine the role of nesfatin-1 in feeding and reproduction because it cycles between a gravid feeding state, and a forced starvation state while carrying developing young in their mouths. To examine the role of central nesfatin-1, we compared the number and size of nucb2-expressing cells in the brain of mouthbrooding, starved and fed females and found differences in cell numbers among groups in specific brain regions. Using qPCR to measure nucb2 mRNA  in peripheral gut tissues we also found differences among female groups. Examining central and peripheral nucb2 will help explain the role of nesfatin-1 in allocating energy during the female reproductive cycle and lead to a better understanding of the evolution of these regulatory pathways across vertebrates.