NELF is a nuclear protein involved in hypothalamic GnRH neuronal migration

Ning Xu, Balasubramanian Bhagavath, Hyung Goo Kim, Lisa Halvorson, Robert S. Podolsky, Lynn P. Chorich, Puttur D Prasad, Wencheng Xiong, Richard S Cameron, Lawrence C Layman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Nasal embryonic LHRH factor (NELF) has been hypothesized to participate in the migration of GnRH and olfactory neurons into the forebrain, a prerequisite for normal hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal function in puberty and reproduction. However, the biological functions of NELF, which has no homology to any human protein, remain largely elusive. Although mRNA expression did not differ, NELF protein expression was greater in migratory than postmigratory GnRH neurons. Pituitary Nelf mRNA expression was also observed and increased 3-fold after exogenous GnRH administration. Contrary to a previous report, NELF displayed predominant nuclear localization in GnRH neurons, confirmed by mutagenesis of a putative nuclear localization signal resulting in impaired nuclear expression. NELF knockdown impaired GnRH neuronal migration of NLT cells in vitro. These findings and the identification of two putative zinc fingers suggest that NELF could be a transcription factor. Collectively, our findings implicate NELF as a nuclear protein involved in the developmental function of the reproductive axis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-55
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular and Cellular Endocrinology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - May 5 2010


  • GnRH neuron migration
  • Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism
  • Kallmann syndrome
  • NELF
  • Nasal embryonic LHRH factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology


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