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Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2006 Jul;144(3):272-83. Epub 2006 Mar 6.

Evolution of GnRH ligands and receptors in gnathostomata.

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Laboratorio de Ictiofisiología y Acuicultura, IIB-INTECH, CONICET-Universidad Nacional de General San Martín, IIB-INTECH, Camino de Circunvalación Laguna Km. 6, CC 164, B7130IWA, Chascomús, Provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is the final common signaling molecule used by the brain to regulate reproduction in all vertebrates. Until now, a total of 24 GnRH structural variants have been characterized from vertebrate, protochordate and invertebrate nervous tissue. Almost all vertebrates already investigated have at least two GnRH forms coexisting in the central nervous system. Furthermore, it is now well accepted that three GnRH forms are present both in early and late evolved teleostean fishes. The number and taxonomic distribution of the different GnRH variants also raise questions about the phylogenetic relationships between them. Most of the GnRH phylogenetic analyses are in agreement with the widely accepted idea that the GnRH family can be divided into three main groups. However, the examination of the gnathostome GnRH phylogenetic relationships clearly shows the existence of two main paralogous GnRH lineages: the ''midbrain GnRH" group and the "forebrain GnRH" group. The first one, represented by chicken GnRH-II forms, and the second one composed of two paralogous lineages, the salmon GnRH cluster (only represented in teleostean fish species) and the hypophysotropic GnRH cluster, also present in tetrapods. This analysis suggests that the two forebrain clades share a common precursor and reinforces the idea that the salmon GnRH branch has originated from a duplication of the hypophysotropic lineage. GnRH ligands exert their activity through G protein-coupled receptors of the rhodopsin-like family. As with the ligands, multiple GnRHRs are expressed in individual vertebrate species and phylogenetic analyses have revealed that all vertebrate GnRHRs cluster into three main receptor types. However, new data and a new phylogenetic analysis propose a two GnRHR type model, in which different rounds of gene duplications may have occurred in different groups within each lineage.

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