Lurie Cancer Center Member
Kelly Edward Mayo, PhD
Professor, Molecular Biosciences; Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences
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Our laboratory investigates cell signaling and gene expression in the mammalian reproductive axis. Our research program seeks to understand how hormones secreted from the pituitary gland (FSH and LH) act on the ovary to bring about the changes in cell proliferation, cell differentiation and gene expression that will result in ovulation and luteinization of the ovarian follicle during each reproductive cycle. We use the genes encoding the hormones inhibin and activin, which are produced in the ovary and act on the pituitary gland to regulate reproductive hormone secretion, as a model system to address these questions. We are presently focused on two major research directions. We are investigating the dynamic regulation of inhibin expression during the reproductive cycle, and are exploring the roles of cAMP-responsive transcription factors (CREB and ICER) as well as the related orphan nuclear receptors steroidogenic factor-1 (SF-1) and liver receptor homologue-1 (LRH-1), in this process. We are also investigating developmental pathways in the ovary involved in the initial formation and growth of ovarian follicles, and are attempting to understand how inhibin and activin regulate normal follicle development and how their misexpression might contribute to the formation of abnormal follicles. These studies also investigate estrogen and Notch signaling in the early ovary, and examine ways in which these pathways intersect with activin signaling. Our research focuses on molecular mechanism regulating normal reproductive function, but is substantially informed by, and relevant to, reproductive disorders that impact fertility or result in infertility.