G-407, Health Sciences Building
Research in the Steiner lab is directed toward understanding the neuroendocrine mechanisms that govern reproduction. We are curious about the cellular and molecular events that trigger the onset of puberty, the circadian signals that are coupled to the preovulatory GnRH/LH surge, and the mechanisms that orchestrate sexual differentiation of the brain. We are also trying to understand how the regulation of metabolism and body weight are physiologically coupled to reproduction. The daily work of the lab is focused on dissecting the cellular and molecular pathways through which sex steroids (e.g., estradiol and testosterone) and other hormones (such as leptin and insulin) regulate neuropeptide gene expression and defining the hypothalamic circuitry that controls the secretion of GnRH. We are currently investigating kisspeptin (a product of the Kiss1 gene), dynorphin, and neurokinin B as well as their cognate receptors, (i.e., Kiss1r, kappa opiate receptor, and NK3R), to learn how these neurotransmittersmay be involved in generating the vasomotor symptoms of menopausal hot flashes. To explore these questions, we use animal models, including the rat and mouse (wild-type as well as spontaneous and genetically engineered mutants), and we employ various techniques, such as in situ hybridization, neuroanatomical mapping, tract tracing, microarray analysis, radioimmunoassays, neurosurgical manipulations, cloning, and gene targeting to create knockouts. Our primary goal is to increase understanding of the biology of reproduction-- but we also hope that our work will have some practical value- perhaps, to reveal the etiology (and treatment) of certain disorders of reproduction, such as hypogonadotropic hypogonadism and precocious puberty, or provide the scientific rationale for the development of newer and better strategies for hormonal contraception.
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Fred Hutch | University of Washington
Institute for Systems Biology (ISB)| Center for Infectious Disease Research