Role of the GABA(A) receptor gamma2 subunit in the development of gonadotropin-releasing hormone neurons in vivo

Eur J Neurosci. 2000 Oct;12(10):3488-96. doi: 10.1046/j.1460-9568.2000.00225.x.


We have employed transgenic mouse models to examine the functional significance of the gamma2 subunit of the GABA(A) (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptor to the correct development of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons in vivo. In the first experiment, the expression of gamma2 subunit protein by the GnRH phenotype was determined using transgenic mice in which GnRH gene sequences direct the expression of the LacZ reporter to the nucleus of the GnRH neurons. This greatly facilitates the immunocytochemical identification of non-nuclear-located antigens within GnRH neurons and revealed that approximately 25% of juvenile GnRH neurons were immunoreactive for the gamma2 subunit and that this increased to 40% in pubertal mice. In the second experiment, GnRH mRNA expression was examined in the brains of gamma2 subunit knockout mice (gamma2(0/0)) and their wild-type (gamma2+/+) littermates at embryonic day 15 and postnatal days (P) 0 and 11-16 using in situ hybridization. The distribution and numbers of cells expressing GnRH mRNA in gamma2+/+ and gamma2(0/0) mice were not found to differ at any age. However, the GnRH mRNA content of medial septal cells was significantly lower in gamma2(0/0) compared with gamma2+/+ mice at P11-16 (P<0.05) and the same trend was observed for preoptic area neurons. These results demonstrate that while the gamma2 subunit of the GABA(A) receptor is expressed by postnatal GnRH neurons, their embryonic development does not require a functional gamma2 subunit. In contrast, postnatal GnRH mRNA expression was found to be dependent upon signalling through the GABA(A) receptor.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Count
  • Female
  • Fetus
  • Genes, Reporter / genetics
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / genetics*
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism
  • Hypothalamus, Anterior / cytology
  • Hypothalamus, Anterior / metabolism
  • Lac Operon / genetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout / genetics
  • Mice, Knockout / metabolism
  • Mice, Transgenic / genetics
  • Mice, Transgenic / metabolism
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Phenotype
  • Preoptic Area / cytology
  • Preoptic Area / metabolism
  • Prosencephalon / cytology
  • Prosencephalon / embryology*
  • Prosencephalon / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, GABA-A / genetics*
  • Receptors, GABA-A / metabolism
  • Septal Nuclei / cytology
  • Septal Nuclei / metabolism


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone