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Cell Rep. 2015 Jan 6;10(1):62-74. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.12.011. Epub 2014 Dec 24.

An estrogen-responsive module in the ventromedial hypothalamus selectively drives sex-specific activity in females.

Author information

1
Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.
2
Diabetes Center, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.
3
Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.
4
Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA; Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.
5
Liver Center, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.
6
Diabetes Center, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA; Department of Anatomy, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.
7
Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA. Electronic address: john.rubenstein@ucsf.edu.
8
Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA; Diabetes Center, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA. Electronic address: holly.ingraham@ucsf.edu.

Abstract

Estrogen-receptor alpha (ERα) neurons in the ventrolateral region of the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMHVL) control an array of sex-specific responses to maximize reproductive success. In females, these VMHVL neurons are believed to coordinate metabolism and reproduction. However, it remains unknown whether specific neuronal populations control distinct components of this physiological repertoire. Here, we identify a subset of ERα VMHVL neurons that promotes hormone-dependent female locomotion. Activating Nkx2-1-expressing VMHVL neurons via pharmacogenetics elicits a female-specific burst of spontaneous movement, which requires ERα and Tac1 signaling. Disrupting the development of Nkx2-1(+) VMHVL neurons results in female-specific obesity, inactivity, and loss of VMHVL neurons coexpressing ERα and Tac1. Unexpectedly, two responses controlled by ERα(+) neurons, fertility and brown adipose tissue thermogenesis, are unaffected. We conclude that a dedicated subset of VMHVL neurons marked by ERα, NKX2-1, and Tac1 regulates estrogen-dependent fluctuations in physical activity and constitutes one of several neuroendocrine modules that drive sex-specific responses.

PMID:
25543145
PMCID:
PMC4324838
DOI:
10.1016/j.celrep.2014.12.011
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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