Forebrain gonadotropin-releasing hormone neuronal development: insights from transgenic medaka and the relevance to X-linked Kallmann syndrome

Endocrinology. 2006 Mar;147(3):1076-84. doi: 10.1210/en.2005-0468. Epub 2005 Nov 17.


Neurons that synthesize and release GnRH are essential for the central regulation of reproduction. Evidence suggests that forebrain GnRH neurons originate in the olfactory placode and migrate to their final destinations, although this is still a matter of controversy. X-linked Kallmann syndrome (X-KS), characterized by failed gonadal function secondary to deficient gonadotropin secretion, is caused by a mutation in KAL1, which is suggested to regulate the migration of forebrain GnRH neurons. Because rodents lack Kal1 in their genome and have GnRH neurons scattered throughout their forebrain, the development of forebrain GnRH neurons and the pathogenesis of X-KS have been difficult to study. In the present study, we generated transgenic medaka that expressed green fluorescent protein under the control of the gnrh1 and gnrh3 promoters for analyzing forebrain GnRH neuronal development. Our data revealed the presence of the following four gnrh1 neuronal populations: an olfactory region-derived ventral preoptic population, a dorsal preoptic population that migrates from the dorsal telencephalon, a medial ventral telencephalic population that migrates from the anterior telencephalon, and a nonmigratory ventral hypothalamic population. We found that all forebrain gnrh3 neurons, extending from the terminal nerve ganglion to the anterior mesencephalon, arise from the olfactory region and that trigeminal ganglion neurons express gnrh3. Maternal gnrh3 expression was also observed in oocytes and early embryos. We subsequently identified a KAL1 ortholog and its paralogous form in the medaka. Consistent with the X-KS phenotype, antisense knockdown of the medaka KAL1 ortholog resulted in the disruption of forebrain GnRH neuronal migration. Thus, these transgenic medaka provide a useful model system for studying GnRH neuronal development and disorders of GnRH deficiency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Chromosomes, Human, X*
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • DNA, Complementary / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Genetic Linkage*
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus / metabolism
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Kallmann Syndrome / genetics*
  • Models, Genetic
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Olfactory Bulb / metabolism
  • Olfactory Pathways / metabolism
  • Oryzias / genetics*
  • Phylogeny
  • Prosencephalon / metabolism*
  • Time Factors
  • Transgenes


  • DNA, Complementary
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone