In mammals, reproduction is thought to be controlled by a single neuropeptide, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH-I), which regulates the synthesis and secretion of gonadotropins from the pituitary gland. However, another form of this decapeptide (GnRH-II), of unknown function, also exists in the brain of many vertebrate species, including humans; it is encoded by a different gene and its amino acid sequence is 70% identical to that of GnRH- I. Here we report the cloning of a GnRH-II cDNA from the rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta), and show for the first time by in situ hybridization that GnRH-II mRNA is expressed in the primate midbrain, hippocampus and discrete nuclei of the hypothalamus, including the supraoptic, paraventricular, suprachiasmatic and arcuate. Because the regional distribution pattern of cells containing GnRH-II mRNA is largely dissimilar to that of cells containing GnRH-I mRNA, it is likely that these two cell populations receive distinct neuroendocrine inputs and thus regulate GnRH synthesis and release differently.
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