Gonadotrophin-Releasing Hormone Signalling Downstream of Calmodulin


Correspondence to: P. Melamed, Faculty of Biology, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 32000, Israel (e-mail: philippa.melamed@gmail.com).


Gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) regulates reproduction via binding a G-protein coupled receptor on the surface of the gonadotroph, through which it transmits signals, mostly via the mitogen-activated protein (MAPK) cascade, to increase synthesis of the gonadotrophin hormones: luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). Activation of the MAPK cascade requires an elevation in cytosolic Ca2+ levels, which is a result of both calcium influx and mobilisation from intracellular stores. However, Ca2+ also transmits signals via an MAPK-independent pathway, through binding calmodulin (CaM), which is then able to bind a number of proteins to impart diverse downstream effects. Although the ability of GnRH to activate CaM was recognised over 20 years ago, only recently have some of the downstream effects been elucidated. GnRH was shown to activate the CaM-dependent phosphatase, calcineurin, which targets gonadotrophin gene expression both directly and indirectly via transcription factors such as nuclear factor of activated T-cells and Nur77, the Transducer of Regulated CREB (TORC) co-activators and also the prolyl isomerase, Pin1. Gonadotrophin gene expression is also regulated by GnRH-induced CaM-dependent kinases (CaMKs); CaMKI is able to derepress the histone deacetylase-inhibition of β-subunit gene expression, whereas CaMKII appears to be essential for the GnRH-activation of all three subunit genes. Asides from activating gonadotrophin gene expression, GnRH also exerts additional effects on gonadotroph function, some of which clearly occur via CaM, including the proliferation of immature gonadotrophs, which is dependent on calcineurin. In this review, we summarise these pathways, and discuss the additional functions that have been proposed for CaM with respect to modifying GnRH-induced signalling pathways via the regulation of the small GTP-binding protein, Gem, and/or the regulator of G-protein signalling protein 2.