Characterization of a novel fast-growing zebrafish: a new approach to growth hormone transgenesis

Noam Cohen-Rothschild, Naama Mizrahi, Berta Levavi-Sivan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The manipulation of the somatotropic axis, governing growth, has been a focus of numerous transgenic approaches aimed at developing fast-growing fish for research, medicine and aquaculture purposes. However, the excessively high growth hormone (GH) levels in these transgenic fish often result in deformities that impact both fish health and consumer acceptance. In an effort to mitigate these issues and synchronize exogenous GH expression with reproductive processes, we employed a novel transgenic construct driven by a tilapia luteinizing hormone (LH) promoter. This approach was anticipated to induce more localized and lower exogenous GH secretion. In this study, we characterized the growth and reproduction of these transgenic LHp-GH zebrafish using hormonal and physiological parameters. Our findings reveal that LHp-GH fish exhibited accelerated growth in both length and weight, along with a lower feed conversion ratio, indicating more efficient feed utilization, all while maintaining unchanged body proportions. These fish demonstrated higher expression levels of LH and GH in the pituitary and elevated IGF-1 levels in the liver compared to wild-type fish. An examination of reproductive function in LHp-GH fish unveiled lower pituitary LH and FSH contents, smaller follicle diameter in female gonads, and reduced relative fecundity. However, in transgenic males, neither the distribution of spermatogenesis stages nor sperm concentrations differed significantly between the fish lines. These results suggest that coupling exogenous GH expression with endogenous LH expression in females directs resource investment toward somatic growth at the expense of reproductive processes. Consequently, we conclude that incorporating GH under the LH promoter represents a suitable construct for the genetic engineering of commercial fish species, providing accelerated growth while preserving body proportions.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number1369043
JournalFrontiers in Endocrinology
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2024 Cohen-Rothschild, Mizrahi and Levavi-Sivan.


  • GH
  • LH
  • growth
  • pituitary
  • transgenic fish


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