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Molecular characterization and brain distribution of the progesterone receptor in whiptail lizards

Molecular characterization and brain distribution of the progesterone receptor in whiptail lizards,10.1016/j.ygcen.2010.12.010,General and Comparative

Molecular characterization and brain distribution of the progesterone receptor in whiptail lizards  
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Progesterone and its nuclear receptor are critical in modulating reproductive physiology and behavior in female and male vertebrates. Whiptail lizards (genus Cnemidophorus) are an excellent model system in which to study the evolution of sexual behavior, as both the ancestral and descendent species exist. Male-typical sexual behavior is mediated by progesterone in both the ancestral species and the descendant all-female species, although the molecular characterization and distribution of the progesterone receptor protein throughout the reptilian brain is not well understood. To better understand the gene targets and ligand binding properties of the progesterone receptor in whiptails, we cloned the promoter and coding sequence of the progesterone receptor and analyzed the predicted protein structure. We next determined the distribution of the progesterone receptor protein and mRNA throughout the brain of Cnemidophorus inornatus and Cnemidophorus uniparens by immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization. We found the progesterone receptor to be present in many brain regions known to regulate social behavior and processing of stimulus salience across many vertebrates, including the ventral tegmental area, amygdala, nucleus accumbens and several hypothalamic nuclei. Additionally, we quantified immunoreactive cells in the preoptic area and ventromedial hypothalamus in females of both species and males of the ancestral species. We found differences between both species and across ovarian states. Our results significantly extend our understanding of progesterone modulation in the reptilian brain and support the important role of the nuclear progesterone receptor in modulating sexual behavior in reptiles and across vertebrates.
Journal: General and Comparative Endocrinology - GEN COMP ENDOCRINOL , vol. 171, no. 1, pp. 64-74, 2011
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