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Today no informed human being may ignore gender identity is
a biologic and not socio-psychologic question. The "sex of rearing" theory died.
Today researchers are looking for the biologic control of gender identity
differentiation in the brain. Only steroid hormone action is important? Or gene
differentiation also is important? For years I am saying, and I wrote in 1995
and 1998: the brain sexual differentiation is a neural-endocrino-genic process...
now we are seeing more and more about that reality. What has those discoveries
to do with homosexuality or heterosexuality? NOTHING, SURELY! But they are very
important to understand gender identity and gender identity disorders!!!
1: Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 2003 Oct 21;118(1-2):82-90.
Sexually dimorphic gene expression in mouse brain precedes gonadal differentiation.
Dewing P, Shi T, Horvath S, Vilain E.
Department of Human Genetics, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
The classic view of brain sexual differentiation and behavior is that gonadal steroid hormones act directly to promote sex differences in neural and behavioral development. In particular, the actions of testosterone and its metabolites induce a masculine pattern of brain development, while inhibiting feminine neural and behavioral patterns of differentiation. However, recent evidence indicates that gonadal hormones may not solely be responsible for sex differences in brain development and behavior between males and females. Here we examine an alternative hypothesis that genes, by directly inducing sexually dimorphic patterns of neural development, can influence the sexual differences between male and female brains. Using microarrays and RT-PCR, we have detected over 50 candidate genes for differential sex expression, and confirmed at least seven murine genes which show differential expression between the developing brains of male and female mice at stage 10.5 days post coitum (dpc), before any gonadal hormone influence. The identification of genes differentially expressed between male and female brains prior to gonadal formation suggests that genetic factors may have roles in influencing brain sexual differentiation.
PMID: 14559357 [PubMed - in process]
1: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Apr 15;100(8):4873-8. Epub 2003 Apr 02.
Neural, not gonadal, origin of brain sex differences in a gynandromorphic finch.
Agate RJ, Grisham W, Wade J, Mann S, Wingfield J, Schanen C, Palotie A, Arnold AP.
Department of Physiological Science, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.
In mammals and birds, sex differences in brain function and disease are thought to derive exclusively from sex differences in gonadal hormone secretions. For example, testosterone in male mammals acts during fetal and neonatal life to cause masculine neural development. However, male and female brain cells also differ in genetic sex; thus, sex chromosome genes acting within cells could contribute to sex differences in cell function. We analyzed the sexual phenotype of the brain of a rare gynandromorphic finch in which the right half of the brain was genetically male and the left half genetically female. The neural song circuit on the right had a more masculine phenotype than that on the left. Because both halves of the brain were exposed to a common gonadal hormone environment, the lateral differences indicate that the genetic sex of brain cells contributes to the process of sexual differentiation. Because both sides of the song circuit were more masculine than that of females, diffusible factors such as hormones of gonadal or neural origin also likely played a role in sexual differentiation.
Sexual differentiation of the brain: genes, estrogen, and neurotrophic factors.
Carrer HF, Cambiasso MJ.
Instituto de Investigacion Medica M. y M. Ferreyra, INIMEC-CONICET, Casilla de Correo 389, Cordoba 5000, Argentina. email@example.com
Based on evidence obtained during the past 50 years, the current hypothesis to explain the sexual dimorphism of structure and function in the brain of vertebrates maintains that these differences are produced by the epigenetic action of gonadal hormones. However, evidence has progressively accumulated suggesting that genetic mechanisms controlling sexual-specific neuronal characteristics precede, or occur in parallel with, hormonal effects. 1. In cultures of hypothalamic neurons taken from gestation day 16 (GD16) embryos, treatment of sexually segregated cultures with estradiol (E2) induces axon growth in neurons from male neurons, but not from female neurons. In these cultures treatment with E2 increased the levels of tyrosine kinase type B (TrkB) and insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) receptors in male but not in female neurons. This and other sex differences cannot be explained by differences in hormonal environment, because the donor embryos were obtained when gonadal secretion of steroids is just beginning, before the perinatal surge of testosterone that determines development of the male brain beginning at GD17/18. 2. The response to estrogen is contingent upon coculture with heterotopic glia (mostly astrocytes) from a target region (amygdala) harvested from same-sex fetuses at GD16, whereas in the presence of homotopic glia or in cultures without glia, E2 had no effect. It was concluded that the axogenic effect of E2 depends on interaction between neurons and glia from a target region and that neurons from fetal male donors appear to mature earlier than neurons from females, a differentiated response that takes place prior to divergent exposure to gonadal secretions. 3. The effects of target and nontarget glia-conditioned media (CM) on the E2-induced growth of neuronal processes of hypothalamic neurons obtained from sexually segregated fetal donors were also studied. Estrogen added to media conditioned by target glia modified the number of primary neurites and the growth of axons of hypothalamic neurons of males but not of females. 4. Neither the Type III steroidal receptor blocker tamoxifen nor Type I antiestrogen ICI 182,780 prevented the axogenic effects of the hormone. Estradiol made membrane-impermeable by conjugation to a protein of high molecular weight (E2-BSA) preserved its axogenic capacity, suggesting the possibility of a membrane effect responsible for the action of E2. 5. Western blot analysis of the tyrosine kinase type A (TrkA), type B (TrkB), type C (TrkC), and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-I R) receptors in extracts from homogenates of cultured hypothalamic neurons showed that in cultures of male-derived neurons grown with E2 and CM from target glia, the amounts of TrkB and IGF-I R increased notably. Densitometric quantification showed that these cultures had more TrkB than cultures with CM alone or E2 alone. On the contrary, in cultures of female-derived neurons, the presence of CM alone induced maximal levels of TrkB, which were not further increased by E2; female-derived neurons in all conditions did not contain IGF-I R. Levels of TrkC were not modified by any experimental condition in male- or female-derived cultures and Trk A was not found in the homogenates. These results are compared with similar data from other laboratories and integrated in a model for the confluent interaction of estrogen and neurotrophic factors released by glia that may contribute to the sexual differentiation of the brain.
Sex differences in mouse cortical thickness are independent of the complement of sex chromosomes.
Markham JA, Jurgens HA, Auger CJ, De Vries GJ, Arnold AP, Juraska JM.
Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL 61820, USA.
Although the morphology of the cerebral cortex is known to be sexually dimorphic in several species, to date this difference has not been investigated in mice. The present study is the first to report that the mouse cerebral cortex is thicker in males than in females. We further asked if this sex difference is the result of gonadal hormones, or alternatively is induced by a direct effect of genes encoded on the sex chromosomes. The traditional view of mammalian neural sexual differentiation is that androgens or their metabolites act during early development to masculinize the brain, whereas a feminine brain develops in the relative absence of sex steroids. We used mice in which the testis determination gene Sry was inherited independently from the rest of the Y chromosome to produce XX animals that possessed either ovaries or testes, and XY animals that possessed either testes or ovaries. Thus, the design allowed assessment of the role of sex chromosome genes, independent of gonadal hormones, in the ontogeny of sex differences in the mouse cerebral cortex. When a sex difference was present, mice possessing testes were invariably masculine in the morphology of the cerebral cortex, independent of the complement of their sex chromosomes (XX vs. XY), and mice with ovaries always displayed the feminine phenotype. These data suggest that sex differences in cortical thickness are under the control of gonadal steroids and not sex chromosomal complement. However, it is unclear whether it is the presence of testicular secretions or the absence of ovarian hormones that is responsible for the thicker male cerebral cortex. Copyright 2003 IBRO
A model system for study of sex chromosome effects on sexually dimorphic neural and behavioral traits.
De Vries GJ, Rissman EF, Simerly RB, Yang LY, Scordalakes EM, Auger CJ, Swain A, Lovell-Badge R, Burgoyne PS, Arnold AP.
Center for Neuroendocrine Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003-9333, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
We tested the hypothesis that genes encoded on the sex chromosomes play a direct role in sexual differentiation of brain and behavior. We used mice in which the testis-determining gene (Sry) was moved from the Y chromosome to an autosome (by deletion of Sry from the Y and subsequent insertion of an Sry transgene onto an autosome), so that the determination of testis development occurred independently of the complement of X or Y chromosomes. We compared XX and XY mice with ovaries (females) and XX and XY mice with testes (males). These comparisons allowed us to assess the effect of sex chromosome complement (XX vs XY) independent of gonadal status (testes vs ovaries) on sexually dimorphic neural and behavioral phenotypes. The phenotypes included measures of male copulatory behavior, social exploration behavior, and sexually dimorphic neuroanatomical structures in the septum, hypothalamus, and lumbar spinal cord. Most of the sexually dimorphic phenotypes correlated with the presence of ovaries or testes and therefore reflect the hormonal output of the gonads. We found, however, that both male and female mice with XY sex chromosomes were more masculine than XX mice in the density of vasopressin-immunoreactive fibers in the lateral septum. Moreover, two male groups differing only in the form of their Sry gene showed differences in behavior. The results show that sex chromosome genes contribute directly to the development of a sex difference in the brain.
Sex chromosome genes directly affect brain sexual differentiation.
Carruth LL, Reisert I, Arnold AP.
Department of Physiological Science and Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology, Brain Research Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.
Sex differences in the brain are caused by differences in gonadal secretions: higher levels of testosterone during fetal and neonatal life cause the male brain to develop differently than the female brain. In contrast, genes encoded on the sex chromosomes are not thought to contribute directly to sex differences in brain development, even though male (XY) cells express Y-chromosome genes that are not present in female (XX) cells, and XX cells may have a higher dose of some X-chromosome genes. Using mice in which the genetic sex of the brain (XX versus XY) was independent of gonadal phenotype (testes versus ovaries), we found that XY and XX brain cells differed in phenotype, indicating that a brain cell's complement of sex chromosomes may contribute to its sexual differentiation.
Genes controlling hypothalamic development and sexual differentiation.
Department of Physiology, The Shriver Center at UMMS, 200 Trapelo Road, Waltham, MA 02452, USA. Stuart.Tobet@umassmed.edu
Steroid hormones dramatically influence the development of numerous sites in the nervous system. Basic mechanisms in neural development provide foci for understanding how factors related to sex can alter the ontogeny of these regions. Sex differences in neurogenesis, cell migration, cell differentiation, cell death, and synaptogenesis are being addressed. Any and all of these events serve as likely targets for genetic or gonadal steroid-dependent mechanisms throughout development. Although the majority of sexually dimorphic characteristics in brain have been described in older animals, many hormonal mechanisms that determine sexually differentiated brain characteristics occur during critical perinatal periods. Genes suggested to contribute to the development of specific hypothalamic nuclear groups have rarely been examined in the context of sex. The identification of sex differences in the expression of some of these genes may suggest early and likely transient molecular events that set the stage for later amplification by hormone actions. Sex differences in the positioning of cells in the developing hypothalamus further suggest that cell migration may be one key target for early gene actions that impact long-term susceptibility to brain sexual differentiation.
Sex-related differences in gene expression in neonatal rat hypothalamus assessed by cDNA microarray analysis.
Yonehara K, Suzuki M, Nishihara M.
Department of Veterinary Physiology, Veterinary Medical Science, The University of Tokyo, Yayoi, Japan.
Sexual differentiation of the rodent brain is recognized to involve transcriptional activation of multiple genes induced by gonadal steroids at developmental stages. To identify the genes differing in expression level between sexes, we analyzed gene expression in male and female rat hypothalami at postnatal day 5 by means of a cDNA microarray consisting of 2352 genes. By comparing the expression pattern between sexes, we identified 12 male-enriched genes and 20 female-enriched genes. Among them, the expression pattern of 1 male-enriched gene, jagged homolog 1, and those of 2 female-enriched genes, p27Kip1 and p130, were confirmed to be consistent with microarray data by RT-PCR. Investigation of these genes should help to elucidate the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying sexual differentiation of the rodent central nervous system.
Granulin precursor gene: a sex steroid-inducible gene involved in sexual differentiation of the rat brain.
Suzuki M, Nishiahara M.
Department of Veterinary Physiology, Veterinary Medical Science, The University of Tokyo, 1-1-1 Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8657, Japan.
The mechanisms of sexual differentiation of the brain by sex steroids seem to be conserved throughout the mammalian species, although there may be some species differences. In rats, sex-dependent differentiation of the brain occurs in a sex steroid-dependent manner during the perinatal period known as the critical period. Androgen exposure during the perinatal period results in the development of structural and functional sexually dimorphic characteristics in the brain; the absence of testicular androgen leads the central nervous system to develop passively in a primarily female fashion, while the presence of androgen induces the masculinization of the brain. We attempted to characterize sex steroid-inducible genes that are involved in the sexually dimorphic function of the brain. Following the cDNA subtraction between hypothalami of 5-day-old intact and neonatally androgenized female rats, a granulin (grn) precursor gene was identified. The grn gene encodes a 6-kDa polypeptide known as a growth modulating factor of epithelial cells in vitro. Exogenous estrogen, as well as androgen, induced grn gene expression in the neonatal hypothalamus. In the brain of a 5-day-old male rat, grn mRNA was expressed in the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus and the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus. Throughout the critical period for sexual differentiation of the brain, grn gene expression remained high in males, while in females it gradually decreased. Antisense oligodeoxynucleotide (ODN) complementary to grn mRNA was synthesized and infused into the third ventricle of male rats at 2 days of age. Two different control treatments were used; the first consisted of a control sequence ODN that had virtually no homology to known mRNAs, and the second consisted of vehicle alone. After maturation, the subject animals that were treated with antisense ODN of grn displayed significantly lower scores than the control males in various parameters assessing sexual behavior, i.e., mount, intromission, and ejaculation. The present results suggest that the grn gene, the expression of which is induced by sex steroids in the neonatal hypothalamus, plays a crucial role in the functional masculinization of the rat brain. (C)2002 Elsevier Science (USA).
PMID: 11825061 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
1: Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 2001 Dec 30;97(2):115-28.
Low-density cDNA array-coupled to PCR differential display identifies new estrogen-responsive genes during the postnatal differentiation of the rat hypothalamus.
Choi EJ, Ha CM, Choi J, Kang SS, Choi WS, Park SK, Kim K, Lee BJ.
Department of Biological Sciences, College of Natural Sciences, University of Ulsan, Ulsan 680-749, South Korea.
To identify estrogen (E)-responsive genes that may play important roles in the sexual differentiation and maturation of the neuroendocrine hypothalamus, we used mRNA differential display PCR to analyze hypothalamic RNA derived from estrogen-sterilized rats (ESRs). Neonatal rats were s.c.-injected with 100 microg of 17 beta-estradiol-benzoate (EB) for 5 days. Approximately 300 out of more than 2000 RNAs examined displayed a differential expression pattern between hypothalami of the ESR females compared to their 60-day-old controls. EB-dependent expression of these genes was further analyzed by low-density cDNA array using cDNA probe sets reverse-transcribed from the same groups; 98 genes were confirmed to be differentially expressed. We selected 41 clones that showed higher density differences between the two probe sets than mean density difference in control cyclophilin cDNA blots in the cDNA array. After being cloned into pGEM-T vectors, their sequences were analyzed. Homology searches identified four genes as a protein kinase C (PKC)-binding protein, NELL2 (clone 6-1), a thyroid nuclear factor, TTF-1 (9-1), Munc18-1 (17-6), and leuserpin-2 (18-5). The other 22 genes were similar to reported genes or cDNAs such as mouse kinesin-associated protein 3 (KAP3, 8b), mouse IgE binding lectin (15-1), normalized rat brain cDNA (5-1), rat cDNA (8-1) and rat embryonic cDNA (17-1). Fifteen clones such as clone 7-3 showed no match in the GenBank Database. Further characterization of eight clones (17-1, 7-3, 8-1, 5-1, NELL2, KAP3 homolog, IgE binding lectin homolog, and TTF-1) showed that their expression in the adult female rat hypothalamus is sensitive to neonatal treatment with EB. They showed brain-specific expression and moreover, showed an increase in their mRNA level before the initiation of puberty. Some of them showed gender differences in their different postnatal expression pattern. We speculate that further study will demonstrate that many of the E-regulated genes identified in the present study play important roles in the regulation of the sexual differentiation and E-dependent maturation of the hypothalamus.