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Kiss1 is differentially regulated in male and female mice by the homeodomain transcription factor VAX1

Authors: Lavalle, Shanna N.; Chou, Teresa; Hernandez, Jacqueline; Naing, Nay Chi P.; Tonsfeldt, Karen J.; Hoffmann, Hanne M.; Mellon, Pamela L.

Online: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0303720721002021

Issue: Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2021 Jun 4;534:111358.


Regulation of Kiss1 transcription is crucial to the development and function of the reproductive axis. The homeodomain transcription factor, ventral anterior homeobox 1 (VAX1), has been implicated as a potential regulator of Kiss1 transcription. However, it is unknown whether VAX1 directly mediates transcription within kisspeptin neurons or works indirectly by acting upstream of kisspeptin neuron populations. This study tested the hypothesis that VAX1 within kisspeptin neurons regulates Kiss1 gene expression. We found that VAX1 acts as a repressor of Kiss1 in vitro and within the male arcuate nucleus in vivo. In female mice, we found that the loss of VAX1 caused a reduction in Kiss1 expression and Kiss1-containing neurons in the anteroventral periventricular nucleus at the time of the preovulatory luteinizing hormone surge, but was compensated by an increase in Kiss1-cFos colocalization. Despite changes in Kiss1 transcription, gonadotropin levels were unaffected and there were no impairments to fertility.