Emergence of sex-specific transcriptomes in a sexually dimorphic brain nucleus

Samantha R. Friedrich, Alexander A. Nevue, Abraão L.P. Andrade, Tarciso A.F. Velho, Claudio V. Mello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We present the transcriptomic changes underlying the development of an extreme neuroanatomical sex difference. The robust nucleus of the arcopallium (RA) is a key component of the songbird vocal motor system. In zebra finch, the RA is initially monomorphic and then atrophies in females but grows up to 7-fold larger in males. Mirroring this divergence, we show here that sex-differential gene expression in the RA expands from hundreds of predominantly sex chromosome Z genes in early development to thousands of predominantly autosomal genes by the time sexual dimorphism asymptotes. Male-specific developmental processes include cell and axonal growth, synapse assembly and activity, and energy metabolism; female-specific processes include cell polarity and differentiation, transcriptional repression, and steroid hormone and immune signaling. Transcription factor binding site analyses support female-biased activation of pro-apoptotic regulatory networks. The extensive and sex-specific transcriptomic reorganization of RA provides insights into potential drivers of sexually dimorphic neurodevelopment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111152
JournalCell Reports
Volume40
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2 2022

Keywords

  • CP: Developmental biology
  • CP: Molecular biology
  • apoptosis
  • neurodevelopment
  • oscine
  • sex chromosomes
  • sexual dimorphism
  • song nuclei
  • songbird
  • transcriptional regulation
  • transcriptomics
  • vocal circuitry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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