Send to

Choose Destination
J Neurosci. 2011 Jan 12;31(2):426-38. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1688-10.2011.

Hypothalamic dysregulation and infertility in mice lacking the homeodomain protein Six6.

Author information

Department of Reproductive Medicine and Center for Reproductive Science and Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0674, USA.


The hypothalamus, pituitary, and gonads coordinate to direct the development and regulation of reproductive function in mammals. Control of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis is dependent on correct migration of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons from the nasal placode to the hypothalamus, followed by proper synthesis and pulsatile secretion of GnRH, functions absent in patients with hypogonadal hypogonadism. In this study, we identify sine oculis-related homeobox 6 (Six6) as a novel factor necessary for proper targeting of GnRH expression to the limited population of GnRH neurons within the adult mouse hypothalamus and demonstrate that it is required for proper reproductive function in both male and female mice. Female Six6-null mice exhibit a striking decrease in fertility, failing to progress through the estrous cycle normally, show any signs of successful ovulation, or produce litters. Although basal gonadotropin production in these mice is relatively normal, analysis of GnRH expression reveals a dramatic decrease in total GnRH neuron numbers. We show that expression of Six6 is dramatically increased during GnRH neuronal maturation and that overexpression of Six6 induces GnRH transcription in neuronal cells. Finally, we demonstrate that this induction in GnRH expression is mediated via binding of Six6 to evolutionarily conserved ATTA sites located within the GnRH proximal promoter. Together, these data indicate that Six6 plays an important role in the regulation of GnRH expression and hypothalamic control of fertility.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Publication type, MeSH terms, Substances, Grant support

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center