By University of Ottawa May 25, New hormone that stimulates sexual functions in fish could lead to novel infertility treatments in humans. When University of Ottawa biologists Kim Mitchell and Vance Trudeau began studying the effects of gene mutations in zebrafish, they uncovered new functions that regulate how males and females interact while mating. Kim and I were working with international collaborators from the Institute of Hydrobiology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Wuhan. Using gene editing technology set up by our Chinese colleagues, we mutated two related genes and studied the effects on sexual function in zebrafish.
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A large protein called secretogranin-2 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, secretogranin-2 can get chopped up by special enzymes and an international team of researchers found that one small fragment called secretoneurin is important for stimulating sexual function in the zebrafish Danio rerio. Zebrafish are freshwater fish belonging to the carp and minnow family that are now a widely used model organism in biomedical research. Using gene editing technology, University of Ottawa biologist Kim Mitchell and colleagues changed secretogranin-2 genes through specific mutation and found that it affected the ability of female and male zebrafish to breed. It severely reduced their sexual behavior.