About Careers MedBlog Contact us
Medindia LOGIN REGISTER
Advertisement

How Gender is Determined in the Brain During Prenatal Development

by Bidita Debnath on April 5, 2015 at 10:33 PM
Font : A-A+

How Gender is Determined in the Brain During Prenatal Development

In a study, published in Nature Neuroscience, Dr. Margaret McCarthy from the University of Maryland and colleagues studied brain development in newborn rats.

During prenatal development, the brains of most animals, including humans, develop specifically male or female characteristics. She found that giving estradiol, a testosterone derivative, triggers a mechanism by which certain genes in the brain are "unsilenced", allowing them to initiate the process of masculinisation.

Advertisement

This process involves a group of enzymes known as DNA methyltransferases, or Dnmts, which modify DNA to repress gene expression.

"This gives us a new understanding of how gender is determined in the brain," said McCarthy. The researchers also found that by inhibiting Dnmts, they could alter the reproductive behavior of male and female mice. Researchers injected Dnmts inhibitors into a specific region of the female brains, a region known as the preoptic area, or POA.
Advertisement

In every species that's been studied, including humans, the POA plays a key role in governing male sexual behavior. The injections occurred after the first week of birth, the time when the window for brain sexual differentiation was thought to have been closed. Despite this, the preoptic area in these animals was transformed, and took on structural characteristics of a male rat. The female rats also behaved differently, displaying sexual behavior typical of male rats.

In another experiment, they genetically deleted the Dnmts gene in female mice. These animals also showed male behavior patterns. "Physically, these animals were females, but in their reproductive behavior, they were males. It was fascinating to see this transformation," said co-researcher Bridget Nugent.

Source: IANS
Advertisement

Advertisement
Advertisement

Recommended Reading

Latest Research News

Impact of Age-Related Methylation Changes on Human Sperm Epigenome
Link between advanced paternal age and higher risks for reproductive and offspring medical problems has been discovered.
Can Gene Astrology Predict Future Health Problems?
Can gene astrology predict disease risk? Yes, your genes can determine your future health and disease risk.
Tackling Football at Young Age: A Risk for Brain Decline Later
Injury to the white matter explains why football players are at an increased risk for cognitive and behavioral problems later in life.
Frozen Frontier: Humans Leave a Unique Microbial Mark on Mount Everest
Located at the South Col, the rocky area between Mount Everest and Lhotse serves as the final campsite for climbers as well as a frozen legacy of hardy microbes.
How Does Protein Synthesis in Diarrhea Causing Parasite Work?
The new finding is found to be valuable for screening specific medications and treatment against Giardia and other protozoan parasites.
View All
This site uses cookies to deliver our services.By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use  Ok, Got it. Close
×

How Gender is Determined in the Brain During Prenatal Development Personalised Printable Document (PDF)

Please complete this form and we'll send you a personalised information that is requested

You may use this for your own reference or forward it to your friends.

Please use the information prudently. If you are not a medical doctor please remember to consult your healthcare provider as this information is not a substitute for professional advice.

Name *

Email Address *

Country *

Areas of Interests