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J Comp Neurol. 2007 Jun 1;502(4):507-21.

Steroidogenic enzymes along the ventricular proliferative zone in the developing songbird brain.

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Interdepartmental Program in Neuroscience, Department of Physiological Science, Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095-1606, USA.


Neural development requires regulation and coordination of the differentiation, migration, and survival of newly divided cells, most of which derive from the region surrounding the lateral ventricles. While many factors are involved in these maturational processes, studies of cell proliferation and neurogenesis in songbirds indicate that sex steroids may provide crucial cues to newly divided cells and may be fundamental to the organization of a specific neural circuit, the song system. In the case of the zebra finch, steroids that impact song system masculinization are most likely not synthesized from the gonads but from the brain, and evidence is mounting that both developing and adult zebra finches have the capacity for neurosteroidogenesis. Therefore, we hypothesized that during early development, all of the genes required for de novo sex steroid synthesis would be expressed in regions that would indicate a role for neurosteroids in neural organization. We found that the genes necessary for de novo neurosteroid synthesis at posthatch day 1 (P1) and P5 show a broad expression distribution. Most strikingly, the spatial distribution of expression for all of the genes necessary for androgen synthesis is similar to the previously described pattern of proliferating neuronal precursors along the lateral border of the lateral ventricle. Due to the increasing evidence for neurosteroid action on multiple cell traits, it may be that locally synthesized neurosteroids impact cells along the proliferative zone to influence early events in neural development generally and song system masculinization specifically.

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