A gene called KiSS-1 is responsible for triggering puberty, scientists have discovered. It produces a protein called kisspeptin in the brain that turns on the urge to reproduce.
Little had been known about what instigates the cascade of hormone secretions that produces puberty's physical changes. Now scientists can shed new light on why all reproductive hormones are present at birth, go into hiding at about four to six months, then re-emerge in full force about 10 to 12 years later.
Prof Tony Plant, director of the Centre for Research in Reproductive Physiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, said: "An appreciation of puberty's deep-seated neurobiological mechanisms could, for instance, help prevent precocious or delayed puberty from occurring in some children."
His research, carried out with teams at Harvard University's Massachusetts General Hospital and the Oregon National Primate Research Centre, is published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The onset of puberty becomes official when gonadotropin-releasing hormone is secreted and sets off a chain reaction of chemical messages.
The researchers found that by giving animals kisspeptin they could wake up the reproductive hormones from their childhood hibernation, triggering the events that mark the onset of puberty.
Story here. Link to Gene Simmons, so you can personally thank him for putting you through puberty.