Sexual differentiation leads to structural and behavioural differences between males and females. Here we investigate the intrinsic sex identity of the brain by constructing chicken chimeras in which the brain primordium is switched between male and female identities before gonadal development. We find that the female chimeras with male brains display delayed sexual maturation and irregular oviposition cycles, although their behaviour, plasma concentrations of sex steroids and luteinizing hormone levels are normal. The male chimeras with female brains show phenotypes similar to typical cocks. In the perinatal period, oestrogen concentrations in the genetically male brain are higher than those in the genetically female brain. Our study demonstrates that male brain cells retain male sex identity and do not differentiate into female cells to drive the normal oestrous cycle, even when situated in the female hormonal milieu. This is clear evidence for a sex-specific feature that develops independent of gonadal steroids.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)