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Concept: Tetraodontidae


We report that male pufferfishes (Torquigener sp., Tetraodontidae) constructed large geometric circular structures on the seabed that played an important role in female mate choice. Males dug valleys at various angles in a radial direction, constructing nests surrounded by radially aligned peaks and valleys. Furthermore, they created irregular patterns in the nest comprising fine sand particles. The circular structure not only influences female mate choice but also functions to gather fine sand particles in nests, which are important in female mate choice. Strangely enough, the males never reuse the nest, always constructing a new circular structure at the huge cost of construction. This is because the valleys may not contain sufficient fine sand particles for multiple reproductive cycles.

Concepts: Human, Male, Reproduction, Female, Hermaphrodite, Sand, Tetraodontidae, Torquigener


Vertebrate dentitions are extraordinarily diverse in both morphology and regenerative capacity. The teleost order Tetraodontiformes exhibits an exceptional array of novel dental morphologies, epitomized by constrained beak-like dentitions in several families, i.e., porcupinefishes, three-toothed pufferfishes, ocean sunfishes, and pufferfishes. Modification of tooth replacement within these groups leads to the progressive accumulation of tooth generations, underlying the structure of their beaks. We focus on the dentition of the pufferfish (Tetraodontidae) because of its distinct dental morphology. This complex dentition develops as a result of (i) a reduction in the number of tooth positions from seven to one per quadrant during the transition from first to second tooth generations and (ii) a dramatic shift in tooth morphogenesis following the development of the first-generation teeth, leading to the elongation of dental units along the jaw. Gene expression and 1,1'-Dioctadecyl-3,3,3',3'-tetramethylindocarbocyanine perchlorate (DiI) lineage tracing reveal a putative dental epithelial progenitor niche, suggesting a highly conserved mechanism for tooth regeneration despite the development of a unique dentition. MicroCT analysis reveals restricted labial openings in the beak, through which the dental epithelium (lamina) invades the cavity of the highly mineralized beak. Reduction in the number of replacement tooth positions coincides with the development of only four labial openings in the pufferfish beak, restricting connection of the oral epithelium to the dental cavity. Our data suggest the spatial restriction of dental regeneration, coupled with the unique extension of the replacement dental units throughout the jaw, are primary contributors to the evolution and development of this unique beak-like dentition.

Concepts: Gene expression, Developmental biology, Cellular differentiation, Teeth, Tooth development, Dental caries, Tetraodontidae, Dentition


The inflation response of pufferfishes is one of the most iconic predator defence strategies in nature. Current dogma suggests that pufferfish inflation represents a breath-holding response, whereby gill oxygen uptake ceases for the duration of inflation and cutaneous respiration increases to compensate. Here, we show that the black-saddled pufferfish (Canthigaster valentini) has an excellent capacity for oxygen uptake while inflated, with uptake rates increasing to five-times that of resting levels. Moreover, we show that this species has negligible capacity for cutaneous respiration, concluding that the gills are the primary site of oxygen uptake while inflated. Despite this, post-deflation recovery of aerobic metabolism took an average of 5.6 h, suggesting a contribution of anaerobic metabolism during pre-inflation activity and during the act of ingesting water to achieve inflation.

Concepts: Oxygen, Carbon dioxide, Adenosine triphosphate, Oxidative phosphorylation, Cellular respiration, Tetraodontidae, Respiration organ, Canthigaster


The second most abundant cation in seawater (SW), Mg(2+), is present at concentrations ~53 mM. Marine teleosts maintain plasma Mg(2+) concentration at 1~2 mM by excreting Mg(2+) into the urine. Urine Mg(2+) concentrations of SW teleosts exceed 70 mM, most of which is secreted by the renal tubular epithelial cells. However, molecular mechanisms of the Mg(2+) secretion have yet to be clarified. To identify transporters involved in Mg(2+) secretion, we analyzed the expression of fish homologs of the Slc41 Mg(2+) transporter family in various tissues of SW pufferfish torafugu (Takifugu rubripes) and its closely related euryhaline species mefugu (Takifugu obscurus). Takifugu genome contained five members of Slc41 genes, and only Slc41a1 was highly expressed in the kidney. Renal expression of Slc41a1 was markedly elevated when mefugu were transfered from fresh water (FW) to SW. In situ hybridization analysis and immunohistochemistry at the light and electron microscopic levels revealed that Slc41a1 is localized to vacuoles in the apical cytoplasm of the proximal tubules. These results suggest that pufferfish Slc41a1 is a Mg(2+) transporter involved in renal tubular transepithelial Mg(2+) secretion by mediating Mg(2+) transport from the cytosol to the vacuolar lumen, and support the hypothesis that Mg(2+) secretion is mediated by exocytosis of Mg(2+)-rich vaculoles to the lumen.

Concepts: Kidney, Gene, Cell, Cytosol, Golgi apparatus, Fugu, Tetraodontidae, Takifugu


Tetrodotoxin (TTX, 1) is a potent neurotoxin that is widely found in both of terrestrial and marine animals. However, the biosynthetic pathway and genes for TTX have not yet been elucidated. Previously, we proposed that TTX originates from a monoterpene, based on the structures of cyclic guanidino compounds commonly found in toxic newts. However, these compounds have not been detected in marine organisms. Instead, a series of deoxy analogues of TTX were found in toxic marine animals. In this study, we further screened for TTX-related compounds in marine animals. Herein, we report seven novel spiro bicyclic guanidino compounds 2-8, isolated from the pufferfish Tetraodon biocellatus. In 2-5 and 7-8, a six membered cyclic guanidino amide is spiro-fused with 2,4-dimethyl cyclohexane, whereas in 6, the same cyclic guanidino amide is spiro-fused with 2,3,5-trimethyl cyclopentane. Compounds 2-5 and 7-8 have the same carbon skeleton structure and relative configuration as those of TTX. Thus, we propose that 2-8 are biosynthetic intermediates of TTX in marine environments. TTX could be biosynthetically derived from 7 via 2-5, through several oxidations, amide hydrolysis, and formation of the hemiaminal and lactone found in 5,6,11-trideoxyTTX, the major TTX analogue, whereas 6 and 8 might be shunt products. LC-MS analysis confirmed wide distribution of 2, 3, or both in TTX-containing marine animals, namely pufferfish, crab, octopus, and flatworm, whereas 2-8 were not detected in newts.

Concepts: Mollusca, Tetrodotoxin, Newt, Marine biology, Neurotoxin, Octopus, Tetraodontidae, Tetraodon


Mannose 6-phosphate/IGF-II receptor mediated lysosomal clearance of insulin like growth factor-II is significantly associated with the evolution of placental mammals. The protein is also referred to as the IGF-II receptor. Earlier studies suggested relatively low binding affinity between the receptor and ligand in prototherian and metatherian mammals. In the present study we cloned the IGF-II binding domain of the early vertebrate fugu fish and expressed it in bacteria. A 72000 Da truncated receptor containing the IGF-II binding domain was obtained. Analysis of this protein (covering domains 11-13 of the CIMPR) for its affinity to fish and human IGF-II by ligand blot assays and ELISA showed that the expressed receptor can specifically bind to both fish and human IGF-II. Additionally, a peptide-specific antibody raised against the region of the IGF-II binding domain also was able to recognize the IGF-II binding regions of mammalian and non-mammalian cation independent MPR protein. These interactions were further characterized by Surface Plasma resonance support that the receptor binds to fish IGF-II, with a dissociation constant of 548 nM. Preliminary analysis suggests that the binding mechanism as well as the affinity of the fish and human receptor for IGF-II may have varied according to different evolutionary pressures.

Concepts: Molecular biology, Mammal, Eutheria, Theria, Monotreme, Fugu, Tetraodontidae, Takifugu


Although pufferfish of the family Tetraodontidae contain high levels of tetrodotoxin (TTX) mainly in the liver, some species of pufferfish, boxfish of the family Ostraciidae, and porcupinefish of the family Diodontidae do not. To clarify the mechanisms, uptake of TTX and saxitoxins (STXs) into liver tissue slices of pufferfish, boxfish and porcupinefish was examined. Liver tissue slices of the pufferfish (toxic species Takifugu rubripes and non-toxic species Lagocephalus spadiceus, L. cheesemanii and Sphoeroides pachygaster) incubated with 50 µM TTX accumulated TTX (0.99-1.55 µg TTX/mg protein) after 8 h, regardless of the toxicity of the species. In contrast, in liver tissue slices of boxfish (Ostracion immaculatus) and porcupinefish (Diodon holocanthus, D. liturosus, D. hystrix and Chilomycterus reticulatus), TTX content did not increase with incubation time, and was about 0.1 µg TTX/mg protein. When liver tissue slices were incubated with 50 µM STXs for 8 h, the STXs content was <0.1 µg STXs/mg protein, irrespective of the fish species. These findings indicate that, like the toxic species of pufferfish T. rubripes, non-toxic species such as L. spadiceus, L. cheesemanii and S. pachygaster, potentially take up TTX into the liver, while non-toxic boxfish and porcupinefish do not take up either TTX or STXs.

Concepts: Liver, Toxicity, Tetrodotoxin, Fugu, Tetraodontidae, Tetraodontiformes, Takifugu, Sphoeroides


Seven species of Psettarium (Digenea: Aporocotylidae), including four new species, are reported from tetraodontiform fishes from off coastal east Queensland. Psettarium pandora n. sp. infects the yellow boxfish, Ostracion cubicus (Ostraciidae), the first known aporocotylid to infect this family of fishes. Three new species are reported from pufferfishes of the genus Arothron (Tetraodontidae): Psettarium yoshidai n. sp. infects the map puffer (Arothron mappa), Psettarium hustoni n. sp. infects the black-spotted puffer (A. nigropunctatus) and Psettarium martini n. sp. infects the starry puffer (A. stellatus). We also report three species of Psettarium from Australian waters for the first time. Paracardicola hawaiensis Martin, 1960, the sole species of Paracardicola, is redescribed based on specimens collected from the type-host, the stars-and-stripes puffer, Arothron hispidus. Paracardicola is synonymised with Psettarium and P. hawaiensis is recombined as Psettarium hawaiiense (Martin, 1960) n. comb. Psettarium pulchellum Yong, Cutmore, Bray, Miller, Semarariana, Palm & Cribb, 2016, described from the narrow-lined puffer (Arothron manilensis) from off Bali, Indonesia, is reported from the same fish species at two locations on the Queensland coast, significantly extending the range of this species. Psettarium nolani (Bray, Cribb & Littlewood, 2013), originally described from French Polynesia, is reported from A. hispidus, A. manilensis and A. stellatus, representing both new host and locality records for this species. Molecular phylogenetic analysis shows these species to all be closely related, such that they cannot be considered to represent separate genera despite their differing morphology. Analysis of 28S sequence data for Psettarium anthicum Bullard & Overstreet, 2006, a non-tetraodontiform-infecting species, shows it to be distantly related to all other species of Psettarium for which sequence data are available. The species is re-assigned to a new genus, Cardallagium n. gen., as Cardallagium anthicum (Bullard & Overstreet, 2006) n. comb. We think it likely that the host range of species of Psettarium is limited to tetraodontiform fishes. We assessed the infection biology of two species, P. nolani and P. hawaiiense n. comb. infecting A. hispidus, using histology to assess the pathways of egg release for these species. Eggs of both species were observed in both circulatory and visceral organs of infected hosts, often in high numbers. Eggs were seen trapped in the mucosal layer of the intestine and, in rare instances, causing lesions in the laminar epithelium, providing the strongest evidence yet that they pass through the gut wall and escape the host via the faeces. Lastly, we discuss the biogeographical implications of our findings, noting that some Psettarium species now show very wide geographical distributions.

Concepts: Biology, Infection, Transmission and infection of H5N1, Tetraodontidae, Boxfish, Arothron, Narrow-lined puffer, Yellow boxfish


The pufferfish accumulates neurotoxic tetrodotoxin in its body and inflates by filling its stomach with water. These traits are unique to this species, and may be a result of adaptation post-divergence of Tetraodontidae. However, evolution of the protein-coding genes in the pufferfish has not yet been well elucidated. Detection of positive selection on these genes can help us understand the mechanisms associated with functional evolution. We downloaded well-annotated gene information of two pufferfish species, Takifugu rubripes and Tetraodon nigroviridis, from the public ENSEMBL database. In order to detect selective pressure on protein-coding sequences, we performed dN/dS estimation using codeml within the PAML software package. We selected one to one orthologous genes among seven fish species (Gasterosteus aculeatus, Oryzias latipes, Poecilia formosa, Takifugu rubripes, Tetraodon nigroviridis, and Xiphophorus maculatus). Results of dN/dS analysis on orthologous genes indicate that pufferfish showed high non-synonymous substitution rate for positively selected genes, and the evolutionary rate was faster during the diversification of two pufferfishes after divergence. Additionally, a candidate mechanism for regulation of neuro-toxicity of tetrodotoxin was identified from functional annotation of positively selected genes. These results support positive selection on protein-coding genes of the pufferfish with the acquisition of specific phenotypic traits.

Concepts: Gene, Natural selection, Evolution, Selection, Fugu, Tetraodontidae, Tetraodon nigroviridis, Tetraodon


Distribution of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) was investigated in tissues (plasma, blood clot, mucus, skin, liver, muscle, and gonad) of tiger puffer fish Takifugu rubripes. A single dose of PFOS was intraperitoneally injected at 0.1 mg/kg body weight with samples taken over a 14-day period. The highest concentration of PFOS was found in the plasma, 861 ng/mL at 14 days, followed by the mucus, liver, blood clot, gonads, muscles, and skin of fish. A gradual upward trend in PFOS concentration was observed in the mucus and liver whereas there was no change in the plasma, blood clot, gonad, muscle, and skin after the initial increase in PFOS concentrations following injection. No significant trend for estimated total PFOS content in whole body was observed during the experimental period. Relatively high concentrations of PFOS (690 ng/g ww after 14 days) were detected in body surface mucus that continuously oozes from the skin. These results may suggest that mucus is one of the elimination pathways of PFOS in tiger puffer fish.

Concepts: Coagulation, Chemistry, Glycogen, Hematology, Tissues, Fugu, Tetraodontidae, Takifugu