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Current Affairs

New sex hormone discovered

Date: 28 May 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Researchers have discovered a new sex hormone in zebrafish which could lead to developing better fertility treatment options for humans.

 

Background

When researchers began studying the effects of gene mutations in zebrafish, they uncovered new functions that regulate how males and females interact while mating.

 

Details

  • The researchers changed the secretogranin-2 genes through specific mutation and found that it affected the ability of females and males to breed. It severely reduced their sexual behaviour.

  • Secretogranin-2 is a large protein that is important for the normal functioning of brain cells and other cells that secrete hormones to control body functions such as growth and reproduction.

  • However, this protein can get chopped up by special enzymes and they found that one small fragment called the secretoneurin peptide is important for stimulating sexual function.

  • Researchers believe the peptide acts on cells in the brain and pituitary gland to increase hormone release thereby enhancing the ability of the female to ovulate and lay her eggs.

  • The uncovered new genes can regulate reproduction, and the secretoneurin peptide is therefore itself a new hormone.

  • The secretoneurin produced in fish is remarkably similar to that found in other animals, including humans.

  • Researchers can now use genetically modified fish to look for other factors that could enhance sexual function, be it for increased spawning in cultured fish species, or to help with the search for new human infertility treatments.

  • The large secretogranin-2 genes may produce many other hormone-like peptides with unknown functions.