Brain’s Puberty Switch

HOX, SOX, KiSS-1, GPR54, FoxP2.  Although these acronyms may sound like calls for a flag football game,  they are genes that control many different aspects of  our genetic development

Neuroendocrinologists Unlock Chemical Trigger to Puberty


May 1, 2005Researchers have discovered the precise chemical chain reaction that could be the much-sought-after puberty trigger: The KiSS-1 gene, which produces a protein in the hypothalamus, a part of the brain, which regulates metabolic activity. When the protein connects with a receptor on another gene called GPR54, puberty is believed to begin. This knowledge may guide the development of better drugs for treating hormone disorders related to puberty.

PITTSBURGH–They’re politely called “the awkward years,” but anybody who can remember going through puberty knows “awkward” is an understatement. Now medical researchers believe they’re close to solving the puzzle of puberty.

The awkwardness of growing up is not just a physical phenomenon. It’s emotional … And especially chemical.”Puberty, many people would expect, arises in the gonads and genitals organs. But in fact, puberty arises from the brain,” says neuroendocrinologist Tony Plant.

Dr. Plant and a research team from Harvard University and the University of Pittsburgh discovered the precise chemical chain reaction that could be the much sought-after puberty trigger.

“The brain sends an endocrine signal to the pituitary gland. This makes protein hormones which reaches the ovaries and testes,” Plant says.  It all begins with a kiss — the KiSS 1 gene, which produces a protein in the hypothalamus. When the protein connects with its receptor, the GPR54 gene, puberty begins.

More on puberty switch…


About carlos

I'm a curious person, of reasonable intellect, "on the beach" (retired) and enjoying my interest in anthropology, language, civil rights, and a few other areas. I've been a hippie/student/aerospace tech writer in the '60s, a witness to the Portuguese revolution in the ‘70s, a defense test engineer and witness to the Guatemalan genocide in the '80s, and a network engineer for an ISP in the '90s. Now I’m a student and commentator until my time is up. I've spent time under the spell of the Mesoamerican pyramids and the sweet sound of the Portuguese language. I've lived in Europe, traveled in Brazil, Central America, Iceland, New Zealand, and other places. My preferred mode of travel is with a backpack and I eat (almost) anything local. Somehow, many of the countries I have been to have had civil unrest (for which I was not responsible). I'm open to correspond with anyone who might share my liberal, humanist interests. I live in San Buenaventura, California.
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