Steroid receptor coactivator SRC-1 exhibits high expression in steroid-sensitive brain areas regulating reproductive behaviors in the quail brain

Thierry D. Charlier, Bernard Lakaye, Gregory F. Ball, Jacques Balthazart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The steroid receptor coactivator SRC-1 modulates ligand-dependent transactivation of several nuclear receptors, including the receptors for sex steroid hormones. Reducing the expression of SRC-1 by injection of specific antisense oligonucleotides markedly inhibits the effects of estrogens of the sexual differentiation of brain and behavior in rats and inhibits the activation of female sexual behavior in adult female rats. SRC-1 thus appears to be involved in both the development and activation of sexual behavior. In the Japanese quail brain, we amplified by RT-PCR a 3,411-bp fragment extending from the HLH domain to the activating domain-2 of the protein. The quail SRC-1 is closely related to the mammalian (m) SRC-1 and contains a high proportion of GC nucleotides (62.5%). Its amino acid sequence presents 70% identity with mammalian SRC-1 and contains the three conserved LXXLL boxes involved in the interaction with nuclear receptors. In both males and females, RT-PCR demonstrates a similarly high level of expression in the telencephalon, diencephalon, optic lobes, brain stem, spinal cord, pituitary, liver, kidney, adrenal gland, heart, lung, gonads and gonoducts. Males express significantly higher levels of SRC-1 in the preoptic area-hypothalamus than females. In both sexes, lower levels of expression are observed in the cerebellum and muscles. In situ hybridization utilizing a mixture of four digoxigenin-labeled oligonucleotides confirms at the cellular level the widespread distribution of SRC-1 mRNA in the brain and a particularly dense expression in steroid-sensitive areas that play a key role in the control of male sexual behavior. These data confirm the presence and describe for the first time the SRC-1 distribution in the brain of an avian species. They confirm its broad, nearly ubiquitous, distribution in the entire body including the brain as could be expected for a coactivator that regulates to the action of many nuclear receptors. However this distribution is heterogeneous in the brain and sexually differentiated in at least some areas. The very dense expression of SRC-1 in limbic and mesencephalic nuclei that are associated with the control of male sexual behavior is consistent with the notion that this coactivator plays a significant role in the activation of this behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-315
Number of pages19
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 12 2002


  • Aromatase
  • Bed nucleus striae terminalis
  • Gonadal steroid receptors
  • Gonadal steroids
  • Molecular neuroendocrinology
  • Preoptic nucleus
  • Quail
  • Sex behavior
  • Sex dimorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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