Section on Molecular Endocrinology
Maria Dufau Catt, Section Head
We investigate the molecular basis of peptide hormone control of gonadal function, with particular emphasis on the structure and regulation of the luteinizing hormone receptor (LHR) and prolactin (PRL) receptor (PRLR) genes. We also investigate the regulatory mechanism(s) involved in the progress of spermatogenesis and the control of Leydig cell function. Our studies focus on the regulation of human LHR transcription (nuclear orphan receptors, epigenetics, DNA methylation, and second messengers) as well as on the multiple-promoter control of hPRLR gene transcription. We are elucidating the function of two inhibitory short forms of the prolactin receptors and their relevance to physiological regulation and breast cancer. We also investigate novel gonadotropin-regulated genes of relevance to the progression of testicular gametogenesis, Leydig cell function, and other endocrine processes.