The GnRH gene has been cloned in several species, but the location of the promoter and the exact start of transcription have not previously been determined. To characterize the low abundance human GnRH mRNA in the hypothalamus and placenta, we have employed the polymerase chain reaction. The hypothalamus was found to have a 61-base pair first exon, and its transcriptional start site was determined. The human hypothalamic GnRH cDNAs isolated thus far have all contained a short 5′ untranslated region which would correspond to this start site. However, all human placental GnRH cDNAs reported to date have a long 5′ untranslated region, which extends more than 140-base pairs 5′ to this start site in the hypothalamus, suggesting the utilization of an alternative promoter in the placenta. In addition, the human GnRH gene undergoes differential splicing in these tissues. The first intron is removed from the hypothalamic, but retained in the placental, GnRH mRNA. Thus, the placenta has a very long first exon, while the hypothalamus has a comparatively short first exon, followed by a long first intron. This characterization of the human GnRH gene will now allow hormonal regulatory studies to be performed using gene transfer techniques.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology