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See detailImmunocytochemical localization of aromatase in sensory and integrating nuclei of the hindbrain in Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica)
Evrard, H. C.; Harada, N.; Balthazart, Jacques ULg

in Journal of Comparative Neurology (2004), 473(2), 194-212

The distribution of the estrogen synthesizing enzyme (aromatase) in the hindbrain (rhombencephalon and mesencephalon) of male adult quail was investigated by immunocytochemistry. Aromatase-immunoreactive ... [more ▼]

The distribution of the estrogen synthesizing enzyme (aromatase) in the hindbrain (rhombencephalon and mesencephalon) of male adult quail was investigated by immunocytochemistry. Aromatase-immunoreactive neuronal structures (perikarya and fibers bearing punctate structures) were observed in sensory (trigeminal, solitary tract, vestibular, optic tectum) and integrating (parabrachial, periaqueductal, cerulean, raphe) nuclei. Besides the expression of aromatase in these well-delineated nuclei, dense to scattered networks of immunoreactive fibers were found dispersed throughout the hindbrain and, in particular, in its rostral and dorsal parts. To a lesser extent, they were also present throughout the premotor nuclei of the reticular formation and in various fiber tracts. In contrast, no immunoreactive signal was found in motor nuclei, and in most of the statoacoustic (cerebellum, cochlear, olive, pontine, part of vestibular) nuclei. The expression of aromatase in perikarya and fibers in areas of the adult hindbrain where estrogen receptors have been identified previously suggests a role for estrogens locally produced in the regulation of sensory and integrating functions, contrary to the widespread assumption that these functions are regulated exclusively by steroids produced in the gonads. (C) 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc. [less ▲]

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See detailTerritorial aggression, circulating levels of testosterone, and brain aromatase activity in free-living pied flycatchers
Silverin, B.; Baillien, M.; Balthazart, Jacques ULg

in Hormones & Behavior (2004), 45(4), 225-234

Testosterone (T) is a critical endocrine factor for the activation of many aspects of reproductive behavior in vertebrates. Castration completely eliminates the display of aggressive and sexual behaviors ... [more ▼]

Testosterone (T) is a critical endocrine factor for the activation of many aspects of reproductive behavior in vertebrates. Castration completely eliminates the display of aggressive and sexual behaviors that are restored to intact level by a treatment with exogenous T. There is usually a tight correlation between the temporal changes in plasma T and the frequency of reproductive behaviors during the annual cycle. In contrast, individual levels of behavioral activity are often not related to plasma T concentration at the peak of the reproductive season suggesting that T is available in quantities larger than necessary to activate behavior and that other factors limit the expression of behavior. There is some indication from work in rodents that individual levels of brain aromatase activity (AA) may be a key factor that limits the expression of aggressive behavior, and in agreement with this idea, many studies indicate that estrogens produced in the brain by the aromatization of T may contribute to the activation of reproductive behavior, including aggression. We investigated here in pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca) the relationships among territorial aggression, plasma T, and brain AA at the peak of the reproductive season. In a first experiment, blood samples were collected from impaired males holding a primary territory and, I or 2 days later, their aggressive behavior was quantified during standardized simulated territorial intrusions. No relationship was found between individual differences in aggressive behavior and plasma T or dihydrotestosterone levels but a significant negative correlation was observed between number of attacks and plasma corticosterone. In a second experiment, aggressive behavior was measured during a simulated territorial intrusion in 22 impaired males holding primary territories. They were then immediately captured and AA was measured in their anterior and posterior diencephalon and in the entire telencephalon. Five males that had attracted a female (who had started egg-laying) were also studied. The paired males were less aggressive and correlatively had a lower AA in the anterior diencephalon but not in the posterior diencephalon and telencephalon than the 22 birds holding a territory before arrival of a female. In these 22 birds, a significant correlation was observed between number of attacks/min displayed during the simulated territorial intrusion and AA in the anterior diencephalon but no correlation was found between these variables in the two other brain areas. Taken together, these data indicate that the level of aggression displayed by males defending their primary territory may be limited by the activity of the preoptic aromatase, but plasma T is not playing an important role in establishing individual differences in aggression. Alternatively, it is also possible that brain AA is rapidly affected by agonistic interactions and additional work should be carried out to determine whether the correlation observed between brain AA and aggressive behavior is the result of an effect of the enzyme on behavior or vice versa. In any case, the present data show that preoptic AA can change quite rapidly during the reproductive cycle (within a few days after arrival of the female) indicating that this enzymatic activity is able to regulate rapid behavioral transitions during the reproductive cycle in this species. (C) 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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See detailAromatization of androgens into estrogens reduces response latency to a noxious thermal stimulus in male quail
Evrard, H. C.; Balthazart, Jacques ULg

in Hormones & Behavior (2004), 45(3), 181-189

We recently demonstrated the presence of estrogen synthase (aromatase) and of estrogen receptors in the dorsal horn (laminae I-II) throughout the rostrocaudal extent of the spinal cord in male and female ... [more ▼]

We recently demonstrated the presence of estrogen synthase (aromatase) and of estrogen receptors in the dorsal horn (laminae I-II) throughout the rostrocaudal extent of the spinal cord in male and female Japanese quail. The spinal laminae I-II receive and process abundant sensory information elicited, among others, by acute noxious stimulation of the skin and resulting in rapid, reflex-like withdrawal behavior. In the present study, we demonstrate that systemic treatment with estradiol or testosterone markedly decreases the latency of the foot withdrawal in the hot water test. A simultaneous treatment with an aromatase inhibitor blocks the effects of testosterone demonstrating, hence, that they are mediated by a conversion of testosterone into an estrogen by aromatase. Furthermore, the testosterone- or estradiol-induced decrease in foot withdrawal latency is blocked by a treatment with the estradiol receptor antagonist, tamoxifen, indicating that the effects are largely mediated by the interaction of estradiol with estrogen receptors. Together, these data suggest that sex steroids modulate sensitivity to noxious stimuli possibly by a direct action at the level of the dorsal hom of the spinal cord. (C) 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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See detailDifferential effects of testosterone on neuronal populations and their connections in a sensorimotor brain nucleus controlling song production in songbirds: a manganese enhanced-magnetic resonance imaging study
Van Meir, V.; Verhoye, M.; Absil, Philippe ULg et al

in Neuroimage (2004), 21(3), 914-923

Nucleus HVC (formerly called high vocal center) of songbirds contains two types of projecting neurons connecting HVC respectively to the nucleus robustus archistriatalis, RA, or to area X. These two ... [more ▼]

Nucleus HVC (formerly called high vocal center) of songbirds contains two types of projecting neurons connecting HVC respectively to the nucleus robustus archistriatalis, RA, or to area X. These two neuron classes exhibit multiple neurochemical differences and are differentially replaced by new neurons during adult life: high rates of neuronal replacement are observed in RA-projecting neurons only. The activity of these two types of neurons may also be modulated differentially by steroids. We analyzed by magnetic resonance imaging the effect of testosterone on the volume of RA and area X and on the dynamics of Mn2+ accumulation in RA and area X of female starlings that had been injected with MnCl2 through a permanent cannula implanted in HVC. Repeated visualization 6 weeks apart (before and after testosterone treatment) identified a volume increase of both nuclei in testosterone-treated birds associated with a concomitant decrease in controls. Following testosterone treatment, the total amount of Mn2+ transported to RA and area X increased but the dynamics of accumulation, reflecting in part the activity of HVC neurons, was specifically altered in area X but not in RA. These data indicate that testosterone differentially affects the RA- and area X-projecting neurons in HVC. Manganese-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (ME-MRI) thus provides repeated measures of connected brain areas and demonstrates testosterone-dependent regionally specific changes in brain activity and functional connectivity. The slow time scales investigated by this technique (compared to functional MRI) appear ideally suited for characterizing slow processes such as those involved in brain plasticity and learning. (C) 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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See detailEffects of central administration of Naloxone on the extinction of appetitive sexual responses
Holloway, Kevin; Cornil, Charlotte ULg; Balthazart, Jacques ULg

in Behavioural Brain Research (2004), 153(2), 567-572

Several studies indicate that opioids are involved in the control of consummatory sexual behavior in male Japanese quail. Naloxone has been reported to increase copulatory responses. In the current study ... [more ▼]

Several studies indicate that opioids are involved in the control of consummatory sexual behavior in male Japanese quail. Naloxone has been reported to increase copulatory responses. In the current study, the effect of naloxone on appetitive sexual behaviors was assessed during extinction test trials. Naloxone was found to substantially reduce appetitive responding, suggesting that opioids differentially affect anticipatory and contact components of sexual behavior. [less ▲]

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See detailSeasonal plasticity in the song control system - Multiple brain sites of steroid hormone action and the importance of variation in song behavior
Ball, Gregory F.; Auger, Catherine J.; Bernard, Daniel J. et al

in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (2004), 1016

Birdsong, in non-tropical species, is generally more common in spring and summer when males sing to attract mates and/or defend territories. Changes in the volumes of song control nuclei, such as HVC and ... [more ▼]

Birdsong, in non-tropical species, is generally more common in spring and summer when males sing to attract mates and/or defend territories. Changes in the volumes of song control nuclei, such as HVC and the robust nucleus of the arcopallium (RA), are observed seasonally. Long photoperiods in spring stimulate the recrudescence of the testes and the release of testosterone. Androgen receptors, and at times estrogen receptors, are present in HVC and RA as are co-factors that facilitate the transcriptional activity of these receptors. Thus testosterone can act directly to induce changes in nucleus volume. However, dissociations have been identified at times among long photoperiods, maximal concentrations of testosterone, large song control nuclei, and high rates of song. One explanation of these dissociations is that song behavior itself can influence neural plasticity in the song system. Testosterone can act via brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) that is also released in HVC as a result of song activity. Testosterone could enhance song nucleus volume indirectly by acting in the preoptic area, a region regulating sexual behaviors, including song, that connects to the song system through catecholaminergic cells. Seasonal neuroplasticity in the song system involves an interplay among seasonal state, testosterone action, and behavioral activity. [less ▲]

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See detailGene knock down via antisense oligonucleotides to the steroid receptor coactivator SRC-1 modulates testosterone-dependent male sexual behavior and neural gene expression
Charlier, Thierry ULg; Ball, Gregory F; Balthazart, Jacques ULg

in Hormones & Behavior (2004), 46

Studies of eukaryotic genome expression demonstrate the importance of steroid receptor coactivators in mediating efficient gene transcription. Little is know about the physiological role of these ... [more ▼]

Studies of eukaryotic genome expression demonstrate the importance of steroid receptor coactivators in mediating efficient gene transcription. Little is know about the physiological role of these coactivators in vivo. We recently showed that the Steroid Receptor Coactivator SRC-1 is densely expressed in steroid-sensitive brain areas in birds and its expression is steroid-dependent and sexually differentiated. We tested the role of SRC-1 in the activation by testosterone of male sexual behavior in quail. Daily injections of LNA antisense oligonucleotides in the third ventricle (AS group) significantly reduced the expression of male copulatory behavior in response to exogenous testosterone compared to control animals (Ctrl group) receiving the vehicle alone or scrambled LNA. Sexual behavior was restored and even enhanced within 48 hours after interruption of LNA injection (ASSC group). Western blot analysis confirmed the decrease of SRC-1 expression in AS animals and suggested an over-expression of the coactivator in ASSC animals. The effect of SRC-1 knock down on behavior was correlated with a reduced volume of the medial preoptic nucleus (POM) defined by Nissl-staining and aromatase immunohistochemistry. In addition, the amount of aromatase-immunoreactive material in POM, defined as the relative optical density of the aromatase immunoreactivity multiplied by the percentage of surface covered within the nucleus and by the total POM volume of the POM, was decreased in the AS compared to the Ctrl group, suggesting a blockade of aromatase transcription. Together, these data indicate that SRC-1 functions as a critical regulatory molecule in the brain that modulates steroid-dependent gene transcription and behavior. [less ▲]

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See detailBehavioral effects of rapid changes in aromatase activity in the central nervous system
Balthazart, Jacques ULg; Baillien, Michelle; Cornil, Charlotte ULg et al

in Kordon, C.; Gaillard, R. C.; Christen, Y. (Eds.) Research and perspectives in endocrine action (2004)

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See detailDifferential effects of testosterone on protein synthesis activity in male and female quail brain
Dermon, C. R.; Stamatakis, A.; Giakoumaki, S. et al

in Neuroscience (2004), 123(3), 647-666

In Japanese quail, testosterone (T) increases the Nissl staining density in the medial preoptic nucleus (POM) in relation to the differential activation by T of copulatory behavior. The effect of T on ... [more ▼]

In Japanese quail, testosterone (T) increases the Nissl staining density in the medial preoptic nucleus (POM) in relation to the differential activation by T of copulatory behavior. The effect of T on protein synthesis was quantified here in 97 discrete brain regions by the in vivo autoradio-graphic C-14-leucine (Leu) incorporation method in adult gonadectomized male and female quail that had been treated for 4 weeks with T or left without hormone. T activated male sexual behaviors in males but not females. Overall Leu incorporation was increased by T in five brain regions, many of which contain sex steroid receptors such as the POM, archistriatum and lateral hypothalamus. T decreased Leu incorporation in the medial septum. Leu incorporation was higher in males than females in two nuclei but higher in females in three nuclei including the hypothalamic ventromedial nucleus. Significant interactions between effects of T and sex were seen in 13 nuclei: in most nuclei (n=12), T increased Leu incorporation in males but decreased it in females. The POM boundaries were defined by a denser Leu incorporation than the surrounding area and incorporation was increased by T more in males (25%) than in females (15%). These results confirm that protein synthesis in brain areas relevant to the control of sexual behavior can be affected by the sex of the subjects or their endocrine condition and that T can have differential effects in the two sexes. These anabolic changes should reflect the sexually differentiated neurochemical mechanisms mediating behavioral activation. (C) 2003 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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See detailThe aromatase knockout (ArKO) mouse provides new evidence that estrogens are required for the development of the female brain
Bakker, Julie ULg; Honda, S.; Harada, N. et al

in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (2003), 1007

The classic view of sexual differentiation is that the male brain develops under the influence of testicular secretions, whereas the female brain develops in the absence of any hormonal stimulation ... [more ▼]

The classic view of sexual differentiation is that the male brain develops under the influence of testicular secretions, whereas the female brain develops in the absence of any hormonal stimulation. However, several studies have suggested a possible role of estradiol in female neural development, although they did not provide unequivocal evidence that estradiol is indispensable for the development of the female brain and behavior. As a result, the hypothesis subsequently languished because of the lack of a suitable animal model to test estrogen's possible contribution to female differentiation. The recent introduction of the aromatase knockout (ArKO) mouse, which is deficient in aromatase activity because of a targeted mutation in the CYP19 gene and therefore cannot aromatize androgen to estrogen, has provided a new opportunity to reopen the debate of whether estradiol contributes to the development of the female brain. Female ArKO mice showed reduced levels of lordosis behavior after adult treatment with estradiol and progesterone, suggesting that estradiol is required for the development of the neural mechanisms controlling this behavior in female mice. The neural systems affected may include the olfactory systems in that ArKO females also showed impairments in olfactory investigation of odors from conspecifics. Thus, the classic view of sexual differentiation, that is, the female brain develops in the absence of any hormonal secretion, needs to be re-examined. [less ▲]

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See detailIn vivo dynamic ME-MRI reveals differential functional responses of RA- and area X-projecting neurons in the HVC of canaries exposed to conspecific song
Tindemans, I.; Verhoye, M.; Balthazart, Jacques ULg et al

in European Journal of Neuroscience (2003), 18(12), 3352-3360

HVC (nidopallial area, formerly known as hyperstriatum ventrale pars caudalis), a key centre for song control in oscines, responds in a selective manner to conspecific songs as indicated by ... [more ▼]

HVC (nidopallial area, formerly known as hyperstriatum ventrale pars caudalis), a key centre for song control in oscines, responds in a selective manner to conspecific songs as indicated by electrophysiology. However, immediate-early gene induction cannot be detected in this nucleus following song stimulation. HVC contains neurons projecting either towards the nucleus robustus archistriatalis (RA; motor pathway) or area X (anterior forebrain pathway). Both RA- and area X-projecting cells show auditory responses. The present study analysed these responses separately in the two types of HVC projection neurons of canaries by a new in vivo approach using manganese as a calcium analogue which can be transported anterogradely and used as a paramagnetic contrast agent for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Manganese was stereotaxically injected into HVC and taken up by HVC neurons. The anterograde axonal transport of manganese from HVC to RA and area X was then followed by MRI during approximate to 8 h and changes in signal intensity in these targets were fitted to sigmoid functions. Data comparing birds exposed or not to conspecific songs revealed that song stimulation specifically affected the activity of the two types of HVC projection neurons (increase in the sigmoid slope in RA and in its maximum signal intensity in area X). Dynamic manganese-enhanced MRI thus allows assessment of the functional state of specific neuronal populations in the song system of living canaries in a manner reminiscent of functional MRI (but with higher resolution) or of 2-deoxyglucose autoradiography (but in living subjects). [less ▲]

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See detailAromatase (estrogen synthase) activity in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord: Functional implications
Evrard, H. C.; Balthazart, Jacques ULg

in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (2003), 1007

The presence of aromatase (estrogen synthase) in neurons in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord in Japanese quail suggests that estrogens produced locally from androgens could control spinal sensory ... [more ▼]

The presence of aromatase (estrogen synthase) in neurons in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord in Japanese quail suggests that estrogens produced locally from androgens could control spinal sensory processes including nociception. We used the hot water nociceptive test (54 degreesC) to appraise the longterm effect of an inhibition of aromatization on the foot withdrawal latency in male quail. Four weeks after the ablation of their main source of testosterone (testes), castrated males displayed a significantly higher foot withdrawal latency than gonadally intact males. A prolonged treatment with subcutaneous capsules filled with testosterone or 17 beta-estradiol restored the baseline latency within 2 weeks. The effect of testosterone in castrated quail was almost completely blocked by systemic injections of Vorozole((TM)), a nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitor or tamoxifen, an estrogen receptor antagonist (one injection per day for 10 days). Taken together, these data demonstrate for the first time to our knowledge an effect of estrogens formed by aromatization of androgens on nociception. Because aromatase-immunoreactive neurons and aromatase activity are present in the dorsal horns of the spinal cord, this control of pain thresholds is presumably mediated, at least in part, by estrogens produced at the spinal level that act locally via slow, presumably genomic, mechanisms mediated by the activation of spinal nuclear estrogen receptors. [less ▲]

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See detailSpecific innervation of aromatase neurons by substance P fibers in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord in quail
Evrard, H. C.; Willems, Evelyne ULg; Harada, N. et al

in Journal of Comparative Neurology (2003), 465(2), 309-318

The enzyme aromatase catalyzes the production of estrogens in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord where most of the nociceptive primary afferent fibers terminate. Numerous estrogen receptors are present in ... [more ▼]

The enzyme aromatase catalyzes the production of estrogens in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord where most of the nociceptive primary afferent fibers terminate. Numerous estrogen receptors are present in this area and the control of spinal aromatase activity is thought to play an important role in the estrogenic control of nociception. The coexistence of aromatase and nociceptive terminals suggests a role for aromatase cells in pain-related processes, but whether terminals releasing nociceptive neuropeptides (e.g., substance P) actually contact aromatase neurons is unknown and the factors that control spinal aromatase activity have not yet been identified. In the present study we analyzed by double-label immunocytochemistry the distribution in the Japanese quail spinal cord, of aromatase and of substance P or its receptor (neurokinin 1 receptor). All antigens were mainly localized in laminae I and II as observed in mammals. Most aromatase neurons were colocalized with neurokinin 1 receptors and were in close apposition with substance P-immunoreactive fibers. These results suggest that aromatase neurons are responsive to noxious stimulation and may participate in the control of nociception. Furthermore, spinal aromatase activity could be controlled by substance P through a regulation of the aromatase gene transcription as reported for the mouse diencephalon and/or through neurokinin 1 receptor-dependent phosphorylation of the aromatase protein. [less ▲]

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See detailBirds return every spring like clockwork, but where is the clock?
Ball, G. F.; Balthazart, Jacques ULg

in Endocrinology (2003), 144(9), 3739-3741

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See detailEffect of age and testosterone on autumnal neurogenesis in male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)
Absil, Philippe ULg; Pinxten, R.; Balthazart, Jacques ULg et al

in Behavioural Brain Research (2003), 143(1), 15-30

The male European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) is an open-ended learner that increases its repertoire throughout life. In parallel, the volume of hi-h vocal center (HVC) is larger in older birds than in ... [more ▼]

The male European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) is an open-ended learner that increases its repertoire throughout life. In parallel, the volume of hi-h vocal center (HVC) is larger in older birds than in yearlings. We labeled with the thymidine analog 5-bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) the cells that are generated during the fall in the brain of adult males that were 2 or more years old and in yearling males that were treated with exogenous testosterone (T) or kept intact before BrdU administration. In all subjects, the singing rate was recorded and BrdU-Iabeled cells were quantified in HVC, in proliferative areas of the ventricular zone (VZ) and in auditory regions. BrdU-containing cells were observed in all brain regions investigated. They were significantly more numerous in the VZ of the T-treated yearlings than in any other group. In older birds, a reduced number of labeled cells was specifically observed in the VZ close to the anterior commissure. No group difference was detected in auditory processing areas or in HVC. These data show for the first time a positive influence of T on the production of new cells at the VZ level in a male songbird and a decrease of this process with age. Furthermore, in T-treated birds, a correlation was observed between the HVC volume and the number of differentiated (round) BrdU-positive cell numbers in HVC on the one hand and song rate on another hand supporting the notion that singing activity is causally related to the T-induced growth of this song control nucleus. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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See detailCalcium-dependent phosphorylation processes control brain aromatase in quail
Balthazart, Jacques ULg; Baillien, Michelle; Charlier, Thierry ULg et al

in European Journal of Neuroscience (2003), 17(8), 1591-1606

Increased gene transcription activated by the binding of sex steroids to their cognate receptors is one important way in which oestrogen synthase (aromatase) activity is regulated in the brain. This ... [more ▼]

Increased gene transcription activated by the binding of sex steroids to their cognate receptors is one important way in which oestrogen synthase (aromatase) activity is regulated in the brain. This control mechanism is relatively slow (hours to days) but recent data indicate that aromatase activity in quail preoptic-hypothalamic homogenates is also rapidly (within minutes) affected by exposure to conditions that enhance Ca2+-dependent protein phosphorylation. We demonstrate here that Ca2+-dependent phosphorylations controlled by the activity of multiple protein kinases including PKC, and possibly also PKA and CAMK, can rapidly down-regulate aromatase activity in brain homogenates. These phosphorylations directly affect the aromatase molecule itself. Western blotting experiments on aromatase purified by immunoprecipitation reveal the presence on the enzyme of phosphorylated serine, threonine and tyrosine residues in concentrations that are increased by phosphorylating conditions. Cloning and sequencing of the quail aromatase identified a 1541-bp open reading frame that encodes a predicted 490-amino-acid protein containing all the functional domains that have been previously described in the mammalian and avian aromatase. Fifteen predicted consensus phosphorylation sites were identified in this sequence, but only two of these (threonine 455 and 486) match the consensus sequences corresponding to the protein kinases that were shown to affect aromatase activity during the pharmacological experiments (i.e. PKC and PKA). This suggests that the phosphorylation of one or both of these residues represents the mechanism underlying, at least in part, the rapid changes in aromatase activity. [less ▲]

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See detailEffects of testosterone on Reelin expression in the brain of male European starlings
Absil, Philippe ULg; Pinxten, R.; Balthazart, Jacques ULg et al

in Cell & Tissue Research (2003), 312(1), 81-93

Reelin, a large glycoprotein defective in reeler mice, is assumed to determine the final location of migrating neurons in the developing brain. We studied the expression of Reelin in the brain of adult ... [more ▼]

Reelin, a large glycoprotein defective in reeler mice, is assumed to determine the final location of migrating neurons in the developing brain. We studied the expression of Reelin in the brain of adult male European starlings that had been treated or not with exogenous testosterone. Reelin-immunoreactive cells and fibers were widely distributed in the forebrain including areas in and around the song control nucleus, HVC. No labeling was detected in other song control nuclei with the exception of nucleus uvaeformis, which was delineated by a dense cluster of Reelin-immunoreactive perikarya. Reelin is thus expressed in areas incorporating new neurons in adulthood, such as HVC. Reelin expression was sharply decreased by testosterone in HVC, nucleus uvaeformis and dorsal thalamus but not in other brain regions. These results are consistent with the idea that seasonal changes in Reelin expression modulate the incorporation of neurons within HVC. The presence of Reelin in other brain areas that do not incorporate new neurons in adulthood indicates, however, that this protein must play other unrelated roles in the adult brain. Additional studies should now be carried out to determine the specific role played by this protein in the seasonal plasticity of the songbird brain. [less ▲]

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See detailSex differences in the distribution of the steroid receptor coactivator SRC-1 in the song control nuclei of male and female canaries
Charlier, Thierry ULg; Balthazart, Jacques ULg; Ball, Gregory F

in Brain Research (2003), 959(2), 263-274

The steroid receptor coactivator SRC-1 modulates ligand-dependent transactivation of several nuclear receptors, including the receptors for sex steroid hormones. The distribution of SRC-1 transcripts was ... [more ▼]

The steroid receptor coactivator SRC-1 modulates ligand-dependent transactivation of several nuclear receptors, including the receptors for sex steroid hormones. The distribution of SRC-1 transcripts was analyzed here by in situ hybridization in coronal sections through the brain of male and female canaries. A broad but heterogeneous distribution of SRC-1 transcripts was observed with high numbers of densely labeled cells being present in many steroid-sensitive areas including the medial preoptic nucleus, several hypothalamic nuclei, five song control nuclei (HVc, the lateral and medial portion of the magnocellular nucleus of the anterior neostriatum, area X and the nucleus uvaeformis) and several catecholaminergic areas (area ventralis of Tsai, substantia nigra, locus coeruleus). The volume of two song control nuclei, HVc and area X were reconstructed based on the boundaries of the cell groups exhibiting a denser SRC-1 expression as compared to the surrounding areas. Sex differences in the expression of SRC-1 were also detected in several song control nuclei. In particular, the volume of HVc based on the high density of SRC-1 expression was significantly larger in males than in females. The effect of steroids on the song control system could be, at least in part, indirect and result from a modulation by steroids of the catecholaminergic inputs to the song control nuclei. The presence of the steroid receptor coactivator SRC-1 in the telencephalic song control nuclei and in the catecholaminergic cell groups that innervate the song system supports the idea that SRC-1 expression could play an active role in the control of singing behavior by modulating estrogen and androgen receptor action at both locations. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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