Researchers elucidate network of genes that control when puberty begins

PORTLAND, Ore. – In expanding our knowledge of how the brain controls the process of sexual development, researchers at Oregon Healthy & Science University and the University of Pittsburgh have identified for the first time members of an elaborate superfamily of genes that regulate the timing of puberty in highly evolved nonhuman primates. The Zinc finger, or ZNF, gene family comprises approximately 800 individual genes. A handful of genes in this network, operating within the neuroendocrine brain, serve as a ‘neurobiological brake’ that delay until the end of childhood the activation of hypothalamic genes responsible for launching puberty, thereby preventing the premature awakening of the process. The paper was published today in the journal Nature Communications. The paper demonstrates that the ZNF gene family encodes repressors — proteins that hold…


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