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Title:Sex and the Brain: Neuronal Control of Reproductive Development
Author(s):Saberi, Amir
Subject(s):Cell and Developmental Biology
Abstract:Sexual reproduction ensures the survival of many species and is under complex hormonal regulation. A major class of signals involved in this regulation are neuropeptides, small peptides that are released by the nervous system and act on other cell types. We use the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea to investigate how sexual reproduction is regulated by neuropeptides. My research is focused on neuropeptide Y (NPY) function. Loss of NPY leads to regression of reproductive structures, including the sperm-producing testes. Our studies show that asexualplanarians, which reproduce by fissioning, do not express NPY. To gain insight into how NPY functions in regulating reproductive development, we developed an antibody that specifically labels the peptide. This image shows labeling of NPY-expressing neurons lying over the planarian testes, and reveals the complex connections between the nervous system and gonads. The NPY signal is depth-coded, with colder colors deeper in the tissue. Germ cells and the sperm are colored gray. This localization suggests that NPY neurons provide local instructive cues to the germ cells surrounding them during development. Understanding how reproductive development in the planarian is regulated by NPY will give insight into the neuroendocrine function of similar hormones in more complex organisms - like us.
Issue Date:2014-05
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Amir Saberi
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-05-14

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