Insulin regulation of GnRH gene expression through MAP kinase signaling pathways

Helen Kim, Sara A. DiVall, Robyn M. Deneau, Andrew Wolfe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


In mammals, reproduction is acutely regulated by metabolic status. Insulin is an important nutritional signal from the periphery that may regulate the reproductive axis. To determine whether insulin acts directly on the GnRH neuron, we performed studies in mouse-derived GnRH-expressing cell lines. Both insulin receptor protein and mRNA were detected in these cells. A saturation radioligand binding assay revealed high affinity, low capacity binding sites for insulin in GnRH neurons. Insulin also stimulated GnRH promoter activity in GnRH neurons. This effect was blocked by pretreatment with the MEK inhibitor, PD98059, indicating a role for MAP kinase signaling. In transient transfection studies, insulin treatment stimulated expression of a 1250 bp mouse GnRH gene promoter fragment four-fold when compared to promoter activity in untreated cells. In contrast, insulin did not stimulate activity of a 587 bp fragment of the mGnRH gene promoter, indicating that the promoter elements mediating insulin stimulation of the GnRH promoter are located between -1250 and -587 bp. Our studies suggest that insulin may regulate reproductive function by direct effects on the GnRH neurons and specifically by stimulating GnRH gene expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-49
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular and Cellular Endocrinology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Oct 20 2005


  • GN11 cells
  • GnRH
  • Insulin
  • MAP kinase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology


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