Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Second gene for gonadotropin-releasing hormone in humans.

PMID 9419371


Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is a decapeptide widely known for its role in regulating reproduction by serving as a signal from the hypothalamus to pituitary gonadotropes. In addition to hypothalamic GnRH (GnRH-I), a second GnRH form (pGln-His-Trp-Ser-His-Gly-Trp-Tyr-Pro-Gly; GnRH-II) with unknown function has been localized to the midbrain of many vertebrates. We show here that a gene encoding GnRH-II is expressed in humans and is located on chromosome 20p13, distinct from the GnRH-I gene that is on 8p21-p11.2. The GnRH-II genomic and mRNA structures parallel those of GnRH-I. However, in contrast to GnRH-I, GnRH-II is expressed at significantly higher levels outside the brain (up to 30x), particularly in the kidney, bone marrow, and prostate. The widespread expression of GnRH-II suggests it may have multiple functions. Molecular phylogenetic analysis shows that this second gene is likely the result of a duplication before the appearance of vertebrates, and predicts the existence of a third GnRH form in humans and other vertebrates.