Revisiting the evolution of gonadotropin-releasing hormones and their receptors in vertebrates: Secrets hidden in genomes

Dong Kyu Kim, Eun Bee Cho, Mi Jin Moon, Sumi Park, Jong Ik Hwang, Olivier Kah, Stacia A. Sower, Hubert Vaudry, Jae Young Seong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

83 Citations (Scopus)


Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and its G protein-coupled receptor, GnRHR, play a pivotal role in the control of reproduction in vertebrates. To date, many GnRH and GnRHR genes have been identified in a large variety of vertebrate species using conventional biochemical and molecular biological tools in combination with bioinformatic tools. Phylogenetic approaches, primarily based on amino acid sequence identity, make it possible to classify these multiple GnRHs and GnRHRs into several lineages. Four vertebrate GnRH lineages GnRH1, GnRH2, GnRH3, and GnRH4 (for lamprey) are well established. Four vertebrate GnRHR lineages have also been proposed-three for nonmammalian GnRHRs and mammalian GnRHR2 as well as one for mammalian GnRHR1. However, these phylogenetic analyses cannot fully explain the evolutionary origins of each lineage and the relationships among the lineages. Rapid and vast accumulation of genome sequence information for many vertebrate species, together with advances in bioinformatic tools, has allowed large-scale genome comparison to explore the origin and relationship of gene families of interest. The present review discusses the evolutionary mechanism of vertebrate GnRHs and GnRHRs based on extensive genome comparison. In this article, we focus only on vertebrate genomes because of the difficulty in comparing invertebrate and vertebrate genomes due to their marked divergence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-78
Number of pages11
JournalGeneral and Comparative Endocrinology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Jan 1


  • Comparative genomics
  • Evolution
  • G protein-coupled receptors
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Endocrinology


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