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Hum Mol Genet. 2004 Nov 15;13(22):2781-91. Epub 2004 Oct 7.

The product of X-linked Kallmann's syndrome gene (KAL1) affects the migratory activity of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)-producing neurons.

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Department of Endocrinology, University of Milano, Milano, Italy.


X-linked Kallmann's syndrome (KS) is a genetic disease characterized by anosmia and hypogonadism due to impairment in the development of olfactory axons and in the migration of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)-producing neurons. Deletions or point mutations of a gene located at Xp22.3 (KAL1) are responsible for the disease. This gene encodes for a secreted heparin-binding protein (KAL or anosmin-1) which exhibits similarities with cell-adhesion molecules. In the present study, we show for the first time a direct action of anosmin-1 on the migratory activity of GnRH neurons. Specifically, we exposed immortalized migrating GnRH neurons (GN11 cells) to conditioned media (CM) of COS or CHO cells transiently transfected with human KAL1 gene in microchemotaxis and collagen gel assays. We found that anosmin-1-enriched media produced a cell-specific chemotactic response of GN11 cells. None of the CM enriched on three forms of anosmin-1 carrying different missense mutations (N267K, E514K and F517L) found in patients affected by X-linked KS affected the chemomigration of GN11 cells. Anosmin binds to the GN11 cell surface by interacting with the heparan sulphate proteoglycans, and the chemotactic effect of anosmin-1-enriched CM can be specifically blocked by heparin or by heparitinase pretreatment. These results strongly suggest an involvement of anosmin-1 in the control of the migratory behaviour of GnRH neurons and provide novel information on the pathogenesis of KS.

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