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Biol Open. 2017 Oct 15;6(10):1552-1568. doi: 10.1242/bio.029074.

The terminal nerve plays a prominent role in GnRH-1 neuronal migration independent from proper olfactory and vomeronasal connections to the olfactory bulbs.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University at Albany, Albany, NY 12222, USA.
Department of Biological Sciences, University at Albany, Albany, NY 12222, USA


Gonadotropin-releasing hormone-1 (GnRH-1) neurons (GnRH-1 ns) migrate from the developing olfactory pit into the hypothalamus during embryonic development. Migration of the GnRH-1 neurons is required for mammalian reproduction as these cells control release of gonadotropins from the anterior pituitary gland. Disturbances in GnRH-1 ns migration, GnRH-1 synthesis, secretion or signaling lead to varying degrees of hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (HH), which impairs pubertal onset and fertility. HH associated with congenital olfactory defects is clinically defined as Kallmann Syndrome (KS). The association of olfactory defects with HH in KS suggested a potential direct relationship between defective olfactory axonal routing, lack of olfactory bulbs (OBs) and aberrant GnRH-1 ns migration. However, it has never been experimentally proven that the formation of axonal connections of the olfactory/vomeronasal neurons to their functional targets are necessary for the migration of GnRH-1 ns to the hypothalamus. Loss-of-function of the Arx-1 homeobox gene leads to the lack of proper formation of the OBs with abnormal axonal termination of olfactory sensory neurons ( Yoshihara et al., 2005). Our data prove that correct development of the OBs and axonal connection of the olfactory/vomeronasal sensory neurons to the forebrain are not required for GnRH-1 ns migration, and suggest that the terminal nerve, which forms the GnRH-1 migratory scaffold, follows different guidance cues and differs in gene expression from olfactory/vomeronasal sensory neurons.


GnRH-1 neurons; Kalmann Syndrome; Olfactory bulbs; Olfactory neurons; Vomeronasal organ

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interestsThe authors declare no competing or financial interests.

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