Insights & Perspectives
Histone modifications proposed to regulate sexual differentiation of brain and behavior
Article first published online: 10 SEP 2010
Copyright © 2010 WILEY Periodicals, Inc.
Volume 32, Issue 11, pages 932–939, November 2010
How to Cite
Gagnidze, K., Weil, Z. M. and Pfaff, D. W. (2010), Histone modifications proposed to regulate sexual differentiation of brain and behavior. Bioessays, 32: 932–939. doi: 10.1002/bies.201000064
- Issue published online: 14 OCT 2010
- Article first published online: 10 SEP 2010
- chromatin remodeling;
- histone modification;
- sex behavior
Expression of sexually dimorphic behaviors critical for reproduction depends on the organizational actions of steroid hormones on the developing brain. We offer the new hypothesis that transcriptional activities in brain regions executing these sexually dimorphic behaviors are modulated by estrogen-induced modifications of histone proteins. Specifically, in preoptic nerve cells responsible for facilitating male sexual behavior in rodents, gene expression is fostered by increased histone acetylation and reduced methylation (Me), and, that the opposite set of histone modifications will be found in females. Conversely, in ventromedial hypothalamic neurons that are responsible for coordinating female sexual behavior, transcriptional activities in genetic females are fostered by increased histone acetylation and reduced Me, and, further, that the opposite set of histone modifications will be found in males. Thus, these epigenetic events will guarantee that effects of sex hormone exposure during the neonatal critical period will be translated into lasting sex differences in adult reproductive behaviors.