When the choice is between eating and mating, the Caenorhabditis elegans male chooses eating, according to the experiments of Gruninger et al. The authors started by looking at the unc-103 gene, which is necessary for appropriate timing of sex-related behaviors. unc-103 encodes an ERG (ether-a-go-go-related gene)-like voltage-gated potassium channel. Using mutations in unc-103 that caused males to protract spicule muscles in the absence of mating cues, the authors discovered a functional link between pharyngeal neurons and muscles involved in feeding and the mating-specific spicule muscles.
2. Signaling the Onset of Puberty
Alejandro Lomniczi, Anda Cornea, Maria E. Costa, and Sergio R. Ojeda
This week, Lomniczi et al. examined the neuronal glial signaling network that controls the onset of female puberty, as marked by an increase in hypothalamic luteinizing hormone release hormone (LHRH). The authors report that TACE, the tumor necrosis factor- converting enzyme, is required for the TGFerB1 signaling in hypothalamic astrocytes. The work focused on the median eminence. Inhibition of TACE activity in the median eminence in vivo delayed the age of first ovulation in female rats, consistent with a role for this signaling cascade in the timing of puberty.