• brain;
  • embryogenesis;
  • relaxin;
  • retina;
  • thymus

In mammals, the RXFP3 is the cognate receptor of the relaxin-3 peptide (RLN3). In teleosts, many different orthologue genes for RXFP3 are present. In particular, two paralogue genes, rxfp3-2a and rxfp3-2b, likely encode the receptors for the Rln3a peptide. The transcription of these two rxfp3 genes is differentially regulated early during zebrafish embryogenesis. Indeed, reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction analyses show that the rxfp3-2b transcript is always present during embryo development, while the rxfp3-2a transcript is detectable only at larval stage. By in situ hybridization experiments on embryos and larvae, the rxfp3-2b transcript was revealed in the brain and in the retinal ganglion cell layer and thymus. Particularly in the brain, many territories are involved in the rxfp3-2b expression, among them the optic tectum, thalamus, preoptic area, different nerve nuclei, habenula and pineal gland. The RXFP3 spatiotemporal expression pattern appears to be conserved between Danio rerio and mammals, as also previously showed for the corresponding ligand, the RLN3. Interestingly, the brain areas expressing the rxfp3-2b receptor gene are involved in the visual system, emotional behaviors and circadian rhythm and could be functionally related to the neurotransmitter Rln3a-expressing territories.