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Keywords:

  • GnRH;
  • Kallmann syndrome;
  • NELF;
  • neuronal migration;
  • zebrafish

Abstract

The initiation of puberty and the functioning of the reproductive system depend on proper development of the hypophysiotropic gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) system. One critical step in this process is the embryonic migration of GnRH neurons from the olfactory area to the hypothalamus. Using a transgenic zebrafish model, Tg(gnrh3:EGFP), in which GnRH3 neurons and axons are fluorescently labeled, we investigated whether zebrafish NELF is essential for the development of GnRH3 neurons. The zebrafish nelf cDNA was cloned and characterized. During embryonic development, nelf is expressed in GnRH3 neurons and in target sites of GnRH3 projections and perikarya, before the initiation of their migration. Nelf knockdown resulted in a disruption of the GnRH3 system which included absence or misguiding of GnRH3 axonal outgrowth and incorrect or arrested migration of GnRH3 perikarya. These results suggest that Nelf is an important factor in the developmental migration and projection of GnRH3 neurons in zebrafish. Developmental Dynamics 238:66–75, 2009. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.