Neurobiology and Genetics


    During puberty our bodies undergo changes whereby a child's body matures into an adult body capable of sexual reproduction. In some people, however, the onset of puberty is delayed and genetic analysis of this condition has provided insights into the hormonal mechanisms that control sexual maturation. Thus, in 2003 it was discovered that onset of puberty is triggered by the release of a hormone in the brain (a neurohormone) known as kisspeptin, which then exerts its effects by binding to a protein known as the kisspeptin receptor. But when did kisspeptin and its receptor originate in the evolutionary history of life on earth?


    This co-authored review by Dick Nässel and Meet Zandawala discusses the role of neuropeptides as molecular switches in behavioural decisions. Classical work by Norbert Wiener (1948) laid the foundations for cybernetics - the study of control and communication in the animal and the machine. Nobel laureate Roger Guillemin used the generic name "cybernin" to refer to peptides used for paracrine signaling. The authors coin the term "endocrine cybernetics" which is the regulation or governance of behavior by paracrine chemical signaling.