Oline K. Ronnekleiv, PhD
Professor of Physiology & Pharmacology
Background & Education
Ph.D., University of Texas Health Sciences Center, Dallas Texas, 1974
The Rønnekleiv Research group is investigating the function and regulation of gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons. The GnRH neurons control reproduction and are therefore critical for the survival of the species. These neurons migrate from the nose during development to their species-specific location in the hypothalamus (Rønnekleiv and Resko, Endocrinology, 1990). Our current work uses a transgenic mouse model, that express green fluorescent protein in GnRH neurons, to study the mechanism by which estrogen, neurotransmitters and metabolic factors regulate GnRH neurons. We are combining whole-cell patch recording with molecular biology to explore membrane properties, intracellular signaling and gene expression changes in individual GnRH neurons. We have recently discovered that GnRH neurons express T-type calcium channels, which are important for burst firing and neuropeptide release. Additional work focuses on the mechanism by which the neuropeptide kisspeptin regulates GnRH neurons. To date, kisspeptin neurons provide the most potent excitatory drive to GnRH neurons and it is known that patients with deletion in its cognate receptor (GPR 54) exhibit hypothalamic hypogonadism. In collaborative projects, we are also studying the role of estrogen in modulating hypothalamic control of energy homeostasis and body temperature.
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