Signatures of Sex: Sex Differences in Gene Expression in the Vertebrate Brain

Gegenhuber, B., Tollkuhn, J. (January 2020) Signatures of Sex: Sex Differences in Gene Expression in the Vertebrate Brain. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Dev Biol, 9 (1). e348.

DOI: 10.1002/wdev.348


Women and men differ in disease prevalence, symptoms, and progression rates for many psychiatric and neurological disorders. As more preclinical studies include both sexes in experimental design, an increasing number of sex differences in physiology and behavior have been reported. In the brain, sex-typical behaviors are thought to result from sex-specific patterns of neural activity in response to the same sensory stimulus or context. These differential firing patterns likely arise as a consequence of underlying anatomic or molecular sex differences. Accordingly, gene expression in the brains of females and males has been extensively investigated, with the goal of identifying biological pathways that specify or modulate sex differences in brain function. However, there is surprisingly little consensus on sex-biased genes across studies and only a handful of robust candidates have been pursued in the follow-up experiments. Furthermore, it is not known how or when sex-biased gene expression originates, as few studies have been performed in the developing brain. Here we integrate molecular genetic and neural circuit perspectives to provide a conceptual framework of how sex differences in gene expression can arise in the brain. We detail mechanisms of gene regulation by steroid hormones, highlight landmark studies in rodents and humans, identify emerging themes, and offer recommendations for future research.

Item Type: Paper
CSHL Authors:
Communities: CSHL labs > Tollkuhn lab
School of Biological Sciences > Publications
Depositing User: Adrian Gomez
Date: January 2020
Date Deposited: 11 May 2020 14:01
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2021 18:23
PMCID: PMC6864223
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