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Uncovering Inhibitions

A key regulator of female fertility identified – potential as a target in fertility treatment

15 January 2022

Uncovering Inhibitions

Within the sophisticated signalling network controlling female fertility, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), a keystone of fertility treatments, is critical to the development of mature eggs. FSH also self-regulates, stimulating the production of proteins, aptly named inhibins, that suppress its synthesis by the pituitary gland. Inhibin A targets a receptor called betaglycan, but researchers have only just identified a receptor for inhibin B, known as TGFBR3L. Female mice lacking TGFBR3L have slightly elevated FSH levels and larger litters, suggesting that, without TGFBR3L, inhibin B has less impact, and fertility increases. Yet, when both betaglycan and TGFBR3L are lost from pituitary gland cells, females display even higher FSH levels and much larger ovaries (pictured, right) compared to those lacking only TGFBR3L (left), and these mice are infertile. Understanding the different mechanisms underlying each FSH inhibitory pathway and especially the subtler effects of manipulating only TGFBR3L could suggest novel approaches to tackling infertility.

Written by Emmanuelle Briolat

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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