Navigation Links
UNH researcher helps identify key reproductive hormone in oldest vertebrate
Date:10/5/2010

DURHAM, N.H. -- Looking at a hagfish an eyeless, snot-covered, worm-like scavenger of the deep the last thing that comes to mind is sex. Yet the reproductive functioning of these ancient vertebrates is such an enduring enigma that a gold medal was once offered to anyone who could elucidate it.

Although the prize expired, unclaimed, long ago, University of New Hampshire professor of biochemistry Stacia Sower and colleagues at two Japanese universities have identified the first reproductive hormone of the hagfish a gonadatropin -- representing a significant step toward unraveling the mystery of hagfish reproduction. Their findings, "Evolutionary origin of a functional gonadotropin in the pituitary of the most primitive vertebrate, hagfish," were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academies of Science (PNAS) in September.

"This is a significant breakthrough with hagfish," says Sower, who was second senior author on this paper, co-authored by principal investigator Katsuhisa Uchida and Sower's long-time collaborator Masumi Nozaki, both of Niigata University in Japan. Gonadatropins (GTHs) are a protein secreted from the pituitary, stimulating the gonads (ovaries and testes) to produce and release the sex steroid hormones which prompt their growth and maturation. GTHs are produced in response to hypothalamic gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), what Sower calls the "master molecule" for reproduction in vertebrates; its discovery remains the holy grail of understanding hagfish reproduction.

At 500 million years old, hagfish are the oldest living vertebrate, predating the dinosaurs. "They're one of evolution's great success stories," says Sower, who has devoted the majority of her 30-year career researching hagfish and the similarly un-charismatic lamprey eels. "Here's this animal with a backbone that we don't know anything about." They're notoriously difficult to study, in part because their habitat is the ocean floor at 100 meters or more.

Yet their important evolutionary position makes hagfish worthy of scientific inquiry. "We look at the evolution of the hormones and receptors and say, 'have they retrained characteristics of their ancestral forms, or are they more similar to higher vertebrates?'" says Sower. "They're a key to understanding the evolution of later evolved vertebrates."

Compounding the urgency of better understanding hagfish reproduction is their growing importance as a fishery in the Gulf of Maine. Despite their vicious nature and least appealing characteristic the stress-induced secretion of mucous from up to 200 slime glands along their bodies hagfish are prized, particularly in Asian markets. Their tough, soft skin is marketed as "eel" skin for wallets, belts and other items ("Because they're not going to sell something that says 'hagfish,'" says Sower, pulling out her own flawless 20-year-old eel skin wallet).

Fished in the Gulf of Maine since 1992, hagfish have been fished out of the waters off Korea and Japan and overfished on the U.S. West coast. They also play a significant role in nutrient cycling and ocean-floor clean-up, feeding primarily on dead and dying fish. Lacking knowledge on their reproductive functions how, when and where they spawn the hagfish could be fished to extinction, says Sower.

Sower, who directs the Center for Molecular and Comparative Endocrinology at UNH, has worked with Nozaki on hagfish reproduction since both scientists were postdoctoral researchers at the University of Washington in 1980. The two, along with Hiroshi Kawauchi of Kitasato University in Japan, have shared students and researchers through a formal collaboration that's produced more than 30 papers. It's also, notes Sower, produced many failures as they've labored to identify the hagfish GTH.

"Now we're filling in the gaps of what we know," she says.


'/>"/>

Contact: Beth Potier
beth.potier@unh.edu
603-862-1566
University of New Hampshire
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Wistar Institute researcher receives New Innovator award from NIH
2. NC State researchers get to root of parasite genome
3. Researchers find animal with ability to survive climate change
4. Researchers find an essential gene for forming ears of corn
5. Researchers note differences between people and animals on calorie restriction
6. Researcher working on destruction of chemical weapons
7. Researchers study acoustic communication in deep-sea fish
8. Researchers discover that growing up too fast may mean dying young in honey bees
9. Researchers study how pistachios may improve heart health
10. UI researchers find potentially toxic substance present in Chicago air
11. Researchers develop new self-training gene prediction program for fungi
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/15/2016)... 15, 2016 Advancements in biometrics ... wellness and wellbeing (HWW), and security of ... new passenger vehicles begin to feature fingerprint ... heart beat monitoring, brain wave monitoring, stress ... and pulse detection. These will be driven ...
(Date:12/12/2016)... , Dec. 12, 2016  Researchers at ... possibilities for graphene by combining the material with ... highly sensitive pressure detector able to sense pulse, ... a small spider.  The research ... can be read here:  http://science.sciencemag.org/content/354/6317/1257 ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... PUNE, India , December 7, 2016 According to ... NLP, Machine Learning), Software Tool (Facial Expression, Voice Recognition), Service, Application Area, End ... size is estimated to grow from USD 6.72 Billion in 2016 to USD ... Continue Reading ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/21/2017)... ... 2017 , ... G&L Scientific Inc, a leading provider of ... has announced the opening of new offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts, strengthening and improving ... is the latest step in G&L’s expansion of its global clinical consulting services ...
(Date:1/21/2017)... -- Bioptix, Inc. (Nasdaq: BIOP ... 14, 2017 the Board of Directors of the Company ... certain employees associated with the September 2016 acquisition of ... on January 16, 2017 and terminations are expected to ... severance benefits in certain circumstances of up to one ...
(Date:1/20/2017)... Stock-Callers.com explores the Biotech industry ... most recent performances of select equities. In this morning,s ... ), Abeona Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: ABEO ), ... Sage Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: SAGE ). According ... global Biotech market size is expected to reach $604.40 billion by 2020 due ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... 2017 Research and Markets has announced the ... Cancer Type, Application - Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2014-2022" ... ... market is projected to reach $15,737 million by 2022 from $6,521 ... 2022. Omic technologies segment accounted for more than ...
Breaking Biology Technology: