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Progesterone: The major progestational steroid that is secreted primarily by the Corpus luteum and the Placenta. Progesterone acts on the Uterus, the Mammary glands and the Brain. It is required in Embryo implantation; Pregnancy maintenance, and the development of mammary tissue for Milk production. Progesterone, converted from Pregnenolone, also serves as an intermediate in the biosynthesis of Gonadal steroid hormones and adrenal Corticosteroids.

Autocrine Signaling

JoVE 10973

Secreted signals can act on a variety of target cells. In some cases, the cell that secretes a signal also detects and responds to the signaling molecule it produces; this is called Autocrine Signaling.

Under normal physiological conditions, autocrine signaling is important for homeostasis. This process is well characterized in the macrophages of the immune system. Macrophages secrete a variety of signals including the cytokine Interleukin-1, IL-1. The secreting macrophages also possess membrane receptors for IL-1 that, when bound, can activate an intracellular signaling cascade. The resulting intracellular signals trigger the secretion of additional cytokines including more IL-1 from the target cell. Though IL-1 secreted by these macrophages can also bind to receptors on other cells and cell types, binding to the signaling cell is important in the regulation of signal production. Autocrine signaling is also a major mechanism of cancer cell proliferation. Cancerous cells secrete a variety of growth signals to themselves, through autocrine signaling, and to nearby tissues. For example, progesterone appears to act in an autocrine manner in breast cancer, whereby progesterone binds to progesterone receptors on the signaling cell, stimulating the action of growth-promoting genes. Autocrine signaling can also play a role in the development of skin cancer by stim

 Core: Biology

Endocrine Signaling

JoVE 10719

Endocrine cells produce hormones to communicate with remote target cells found in other organs. The hormone reaches these distant areas using the circulatory system. This exposes the whole organism to the hormone but only those cells expressing hormone receptors or target cells are affected. Thus, endocrine signaling induces slow responses from its target cells but these effects also last longer. There are two types of endocrine receptors: cell surface receptors and intracellular receptors. Cell surface receptors work similarly to other membrane bound receptors. Hormones, the ligand, bind to a hormone specific G-protein coupled receptor. This initiates conformational changes in the receptor, releasing a subunit of the G-protein. The protein activates second messengers which internalize the message by triggering signaling cascades and transcription factors. Many hormones work through cell surface receptors, including epinephrine, norepinephrine, insulin, prostaglandins, prolactin, and growth hormones. Steroid hormones, like testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone, transmit signals using intracellular receptors. These hormones are small hydrophobic molecules so they move directly past the outer cell membrane. Once inside, and if that cell is a target cell, the hormone binds to its receptor. Binding creates a conformational change in the receptor

 Core: Biology

Parental Care

JoVE 10921

Many animals exhibit parental care behavior, including feeding, grooming, and protecting young offspring. Parental care is universal in mammals and birds, which often have young that are born relatively helpless. Several species of insects and fish, as well as some amphibians, also care for their young.

Parental care can occur even before hatching in birds, when parents sit on their eggs to incubate them. After hatching, the parents provide food for their offspring, and may continue to brood their young to keep them warm. Both male and female birds provide parental care, depending on the species. In marsupial mammals, such as kangaroos, the embryos are often born at a very early stage and then crawl into their mother’s pouch. Here, the mother nurses and protects her offspring—sometimes for many months—until it can function more independently. Placental mammals are born more developed than marsupials, but they still require a lot of care. Mammalian parental care is mostly provided by the mother, triggered by the hormones of pregnancy and birth and the necessity of lactation for providing nutrients. Nursing is an essential kind of mammalian parental care since the mother’s milk is the primary source of food for the young. Mammals also often lick their newborns and carry them around—grooming, protecting, and bonding wi

 Core: Biology

Fertilization

JoVE 10907

During fertilization, an egg and sperm cell fuse to create a new diploid structure. In humans, the process occurs once the egg has been released from the ovary, and travels into the fallopian tubes. The process requires several key steps: 1) sperm present in the genital tract must locate the egg; 2) once there, sperm need to release enzymes to help them burrow through the protective zona pellucida of the egg; and 3) the membranes of a single sperm cell and egg must fuse, with the sperm releasing its contents—including its nucleus and centrosome—into the egg’s cytoplasm. If these steps are successful, the genetic material of the male and female gametes combine, and mitotic cell division commences, giving rise to a diploid embryo. The binding of the sperm and egg cell brings about various changes, among them the production of waves of calcium ions (Ca2+) pulsing through the egg cell. Such oscillations are initiated by sperm-egg fusion and result from both the release and uptake of endogenous Ca2+ in the endoplasmic reticulum of an egg cell and the simultaneous discharge and intake of such ions from the egg’s extracellular environment. Importantly, calcium signaling modifies the egg by causing vesicles, called cortical granules, that lay directly below its plasma membrane to release their contents into the open space bene

 Core: Biology

Measuring Intracellular Ca2+ Changes in Human Sperm using Four Techniques: Conventional Fluorometry, Stopped Flow Fluorometry, Flow Cytometry and Single Cell Imaging

1Departamento de Genética del Desarrollo y Fisiología Molecular, Instituto de Biotecnología-Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2Math and Sciences Department, Edison State College

JoVE 50344

 Biology
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