Characterization of all the progestin receptor genes (PRs) found in the European eel has been performed. There were five membrane PRs (mPRs): mPRα (alpha), mPRAL1 (alpha-like1), mPRAL2 (alpha-like2), mPRγ (gamma), mPRδ (delta) and two nuclear PRs (nPRs or PGRs): pgr1 and pgr2. In silico studies showed that the C and E(F) domains of Pgr are well conserved among vertebrates whereas the A/B domain is not. Phylogeny and synteny analyses suggest that eel duplicated pgr (pgr1 and pgr2) originated from the teleost-specific third whole genome duplication (3R). mPR phylogeny placed three eel mPRs together with the mPRα clade, being termed mPRα, mPRAL1 and mPRAL2, while the other two eel mPRs clustered with mPRγ and mPRδ clades, respectively.
The in vivo study showed differential expression patterns along the brain-pituitary-gonad axis. An increase in NPR transcripts was observed in brain (in pgr1) and pituitary (in pgr1 and pgr2)through the spermatogenesis, from the spermatogonia B/spermatocyte stage to the spermiation stage. In the testis, mPRγ, mPRδ and pgr2 transcripts showed the highest levels in testis with A spermatogonia as dominant germcell,while the highest mPRα, mPRAL1 and mPRAL2 transcripts were observed in testis from spermiating males, where the dominant germ cell were spermatozoa. Further studies should elucidate the role of both nuclear and membrane progestin receptors on eel spermatogenesis.