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Early Development of Forebrain Gonadotrophin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH) Neurones and the Role of GnRH as an Autocrine Migration Factor


Professor Yonathan Zohar, Center of Marine Biotechnology, University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, Baltimore, MD, USA (e-mail:


Normal migration of the gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurones during early development, from the olfactory region to the hypothalamus, is crucial for reproductive development in all vertebrates. The establishment of the GnRH system includes tangential migration of GnRH perikarya as well as extension of GnRH fibres to various areas of the central nervous system (CNS). The exact spatio-temporal nature of this process, as well as the factors governing it, are not fully understood. We studied the development of the GnRH system and the effects of GnRH knockdown using a newly developed GnRH3:EGFP transgenic zebrafish line. We found that enhanced green fluorescent protein is specifically and robustly expressed in GnRH3 neurones and fibres. GnRH3 fibres in zebrafish began to extend as early as 26 h post-fertilisation and by 4–5 days post-fertilisation had developed into an extensive network reaching the optic tract, telencephalon, hypothalamus, midbrain tegmentum and hindbrain. GnRH3 fibres also innervated the retina and projected into the trunk via the spinal cord. GnRH3 perikarya were observed migrating along their own fibres from the olfactory region to the preoptic area (POA) via the terminal nerve ganglion and the ventral telencephalon. GnRH3 cells were also observed in the trigeminal ganglion. The establishment of the GnRH3 fibre network was disrupted by morpholino-modified antisense oligonucleotides directed against GnRH3 causing abnormal fibre development and pathfinding, as well as anomalous GnRH3 perikarya localisation. These findings support the hypothesis that GnRH3 neurones migrate from the olfactory region to the POA and caudal hypothalamus. Novel data regarding the early development of the GnRH3 fibre network in the CNS and beyond are described. Moreover we show, in vivo, that GnRH3 is an important factor regulating GnRH3 fibre pathfinding and neurone localisation in an autocrine fashion.