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Brain Res Bull. 2002 Feb-Mar 1;57(3-4):413-8.

Evolutionary development of three gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) systems in vertebrates.

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  • 1Research Group of Comparative Endocrinology, Graduate School for Developmental Biology, Faculty of Biology, The, Utrecht, Netherlands.


Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is the neuropeptide that links the brain to the reproductive system. Most vertebrate species express two forms of GnRH, which differ in amino acid sequence, localization, distribution, and embryological origin. The GnRH system in the ventral forebrain produces a species-specific GnRH form and projects toward the gonadotropic cell in the pituitary. The GnRH neurons of this system originate from the olfactory placode and migrate into the brain during early development. The other GnRH system is localized in a nucleus in the midbrain, where large cells express chicken-GnRH-II, of which the function is still unclear. In modern teleosts, a third GnRH system is present in the terminal nerve, which contains salmon GnRH. The three GnRH systems appear at different times during fish evolution. Besides the two accepted lineages in GnRH evolution (of conserved chicken GnRH-II in the midbrain and of mammalian GnRH or species-specific GnRH in the hypophysiotropic system), we propose a third lineage: of salmon GnRH in the terminal nerve.

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