Type II gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH-II) in reproductive biology
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences . Biomedical Sciences
Reproduction / Society for the Study of Fertility [Cambridge] - Cambridge
, p. 271-278
Humans maybe particularly unusual with respect to the gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) control of their reproductive axis in that they possess two distinct GnRH precursor genes, on chromosomes 8p11-p21 and 20p13, but only one conventional GnRH receptor subtype (type I GnRH receptor) encoded within the genome, on chromosome 4. A disrupted human type II GnRH receptor gene homologue is present on chromosome 1q12. The genes encoding GnRH ligand precursors and GnRH receptors have now been characterized in a broad range of vertebrate species, including fish, amphibians and mammals. Ligand precursors and receptors can be categorized into three phylogenetic families. Members of each family exist in primitive vertebrates, whereas mammals exhibit selective loss of ligand precursor and receptor genes. One interpretation of these findings is that each ligand-cognate receptor family may have evolved to fulfil a separate function in reproductive physiology and that species-specific gene inactivation, modification or loss may have occurred during evolution when particular roles have become obsolete or subject to regulation by a different biochemical pathway. Evidence in support of this concept is available following the characterization of the chromosomal loci encoding the human type II GnRH receptor homologue, a rat type II GnRH receptor gene remnant (on rat chromosome 18) and a mouse type II GnRH ligand precursor gene remnant (on mouse chromosome 2). Whether type I GnRH and type II GnRH peptides elicit different signalling responses in humans by activation of the type I GnRH receptor in a cell type-specific fashion remains to be shown. Recent structure-function studies of GnRH ligands and GnRH receptors and their expression patterns in different tissues add further intrigue to this hypothesis by indicating novel roles for GnRH such as neuromodulation of reproductive function and direct regulation of peripheral reproductive tissues. Surprises concerning the complexities of GnRH ligand and receptor function in reproductive endocrinology should continue to emerge in the future.