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Endocrinology. 2010 Mar;151(3):1212-20. doi: 10.1210/en.2009-0594. Epub 2010 Jan 5.

The nuclear receptor corepressor has organizational effects within the developing amygdala on juvenile social play and anxiety-like behavior.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1202 West Johnson Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


Nuclear receptor function on DNA is regulated by the balanced recruitment of coregulatory complexes. Recruited proteins that increase gene expression are called coactivators, and those that decrease gene expression are called corepressors. Little is known about the role of corepressors, such as nuclear receptor corepressor (NCoR), on the organization of behavior. We used real-time PCR to show that NCoR mRNA levels are sexually dimorphic, that females express higher levels of NCoR mRNA within the developing amygdala and hypothalamus, and that NCoR mRNA levels are reduced by estradiol treatment. To investigate the functional role of NCoR on juvenile social behavior, we infused small interfering RNA targeted against NCoR within the developing rat amygdala and assessed the enduring impact on juvenile social play behavior, sociability, and anxiety-like behavior. As expected, control males exhibited higher levels of juvenile social play than control females. Reducing NCoR expression during development further increased juvenile play in males only. Interestingly, decreased NCoR expression within the developing amygdala had lasting effects on increasing juvenile anxiety-like behavior in males and females. These data suggest that the corepressor NCoR functions to blunt sex differences in juvenile play behavior, a sexually dimorphic and hormone-dependent behavior, and appears critical for appropriate anxiety-like behavior in juvenile males and females.

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