European researchers have discovered the gene that regulates ovulation. The
gene, called Lrh1, has the ability to both regulate and block ovulation, they
discerned that this particular gene is absolutely necessary for the ovulatory
process," Bruce Murphy, director of the Animal Research Centre at the
Université de Montreal, told CBC News.
of this particular gene, in this particular cell in the ovary, had a global
effect — it disrupted several processes which are necessary for the final
event, which is ovulation."
from Université de Montreal and Université de Louis Pasteur genetically
engineered a mouse that had its Lrh1 gene blocked. Murphy said that when these
female animals were put into mate with male animals, no babies were born.
discovered the animals were not ovulating.
Murphy said that
gene performs many functions. These include hormone balance, the preparation of
the egg for ovulation, and the actual rupture of the ovarian follicle that
releases the egg.
pharmaceutical could be developed to target this particular protein and either
turn it on or turn it off," he said. "Turn it on to enhance fertility
and turn it off if you want contraception."
The research team
has been awarded a five-year grant to follow up on the discovery.
The study is
published in the July 15 issue of Genes and Development.