De-masculinising the male brain

De-masculinising the male brain is a Research Project for the Brain and Gender Research Group, under the Centre for Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Project Leader

lab-picThe Y-chromosome gene, SRY, is widely expressed in the male brain, such as the substantia nigra, ventral tegmental area (VTA), pre-frontal cortex (PFC), and hippocampus. These brain regions, which control important functions such as goal-directed actions, attention, and learning andmemory, are also sexually dimorphic.

This project seeks to determine the relative contribution of SRY in the sex differences in anatomy, biochemistry and physiology of these brain regions. We will assess the consequence of reducing SRY expression in these brain regions on behaviour (ie. attention, memory, and goal-directed behaviours), neurochemistry (i.e. measurement of neurotransmitter levels and cell numbers), and gene (RNA seq, ChIPseq) expression.

Approaches include neurosurgery, behavioural neuroscience, neuroanatomy and cellular and molecular biology.

Selected publications

  • Lee, J. and Harley, V. (2012) The male fight-flight response: A result of SRY regulation of   catecholamines? Bioessays. 34(6): 545-7

  • Czech, D.P., Lee, J., Sim, H., Parish, C.L., Vilain, E. and Harley, V.R. The human testis determining factor SRY localizes in the substantia nigra and regulates multiple components of dopamine synthesis and metabolism. (2012) Journal of Neurochemistry 122(2): 260-271

  • Dewing, P., Chiang, C.W.K., Sinchak, K., Sim, H., Fernagut, P.-O., Kelly, S., Chesselet, M.-F., Micevych, P.E., Albrecht, K.H., Harley, V.R. and Vilain, E. (2006) Direct regulation of adult brain function by the male-specific factor SRY. Current Biology 16: 415-420