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Zebrafish enable scientists to study the migration of neurons that enable sexual maturity
Date:6/5/2008

r migratory activity. In zebrafish embryos, the researchers already know electrical activity in these neurons increases as they migrate into the brain. "What you want to know is which comes first. Do you have to be electrically active to move in the right direction or do you become electrically active as a consequence?" says Dr. Kozlowski. They want to change the neuron's route and see what happens to electrical activity, then change electrical activity and see what happens to the route.

They also are looking at genetic mutations, some of which Dr. Layman has identified in patients, to see what role they may play in misrouting neurons. "A mechanic has to know how a car works to fix it," says Dr. Kozlowski. "We want to understand what is under the hood that gets the neurons from point A to B. We want to know the mechanisms because that helps you understand how you might be able to fix it. It will also help you diagnose patients who have mutations in the road signs."

"You can try to figure out the genes that regulate migration, which gives you ideas about what genes to study in humans who don't have puberty," says Dr. Layman. "If we knew more genes involved, we could screen patients to see if we can find the mutations that cause problems.

"The understanding of what initiates puberty in humans is still not really known," he adds, and finding more genes involved in directing migration even messing it up will help. Current treatment for delayed puberty includes giving girls estrogen to help their breast develop and boys testosterone to enlarge the penis and scrotum (treatment won't enlarge the sperm- and hormone-producing testes). Expensive gonadotropin injections to stimulate ovulation in women and sperm production in men are needed for reproduction.


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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@mcg.edu
706-721-4421
Medical College of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert  

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