New science discoveries: Biologists have discovered a new sex hormone.
By studying gene mutations in fish, scientists discovered a new enzyme that stimulates their sexual functions by working as a sex hormone. The discovery may lead to the creation of new infertility treatments in humans. The results were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Canadian biologists from the University of Ottawa, together with colleagues from the Institute of Hydrobiology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, conducted experiments to edit genes in Danio fish, observing how gene mutations affect the sexual function of fish and the interaction of males and females during mating.
A new hormone is discovered
In one of the new experiments, scientists noticed that the change through a specific mutation of the genes of a peptide secretogranin-2 led to the fact that males stopped paying attention to females and did not fertilize the eggs released by females. At the same time, the fish looked absolutely healthy.
Usually a few minutes after the first meeting, the male begins to chase the female in the ritual of courting, and soon the female releases her eggs into the water, the male instantly fertilizes them. But in genetically modified pairs, fertilization took place only in one out of ten cases.
Secretogranin-2 is a large protein, which is important for the normal functioning of the brain cells and other cells that release hormones to control body functions such as growth and reproduction. It is present not only in fish, but also in other animals and humans.
"However, this protein can be divided into parts by special enzymes, and we found that one small fragment of it, called a peptide of secretoneurin, is important for the stimulation of sexual function," - according to a press release statement by the head of the study Vance Trudeau, professor of neuroendocrinology at the University of Ottawa.
By a single injection of peptide secretoneurin, scientists were able to partially restore sexual function in genetically modified fish. The authors believe that the peptide acts on cells in the brain and pituitary gland, increasing the release of hormones. In their opinion, this can be considered as preliminary evidence that mutations of secretogranin-2 lead to a disturbance of sexual behavior in animals in general, and with secretogranium, which acts as a sex hormone, this situation can be corrected.
"We have discovered new genes that regulate reproduction, and the peptide secretoneurin itself is a new hormone," says Trudeau.
Secretoneurin produced in fish is very similar to that found in other animals and humans.
In the future, scientists plan to use genetically modified Danio fish as a laboratory model to find other factors related to sexual functions, whether it is an increase in spawning in cultured fish species or the search for new methods to treat infertility in humans.