The 70-kDa heat shock cognate protein (Hsc73) gene is enhanced by ovarian hormones in the ventromedial hypothalamus.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats



Estrogen (E) and progesterone (P) orchestrate many cellular responses involved in female reproductive physiology, including reproductive behaviors. E- and P-binding neurons important for lordosis behavior have been located within the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH), and several hormone-responsive genes have been observed there as well. In attempts to identify additional E- and P-responsive genes in the VMH that may contribute to sexual behaviors, we used the differential display mRNA screening technique. One of the genes identified encodes the 73-kDa heat shock cognate protein (Hsc73). Quantitative in situ hybridization analysis of brains from naturally cycling female rats revealed a significant increase in Hsc73 mRNA in the VMH and arcuate nucleus of animals during proestrus compared with those at diestrus-1. To confirm that these increases were steroid hormone dependent, we compared vehicle-treated ovariectomized females with ovariectomized females treated with estradiol benzoate and P. Northern analysis and in situ hybridizations showed that the Hsc73 gene is enhanced by E and P in the pituitary and subregions of the VMH. Incidentally, by examining the primary amino acid sequence of rat, human, and chicken progesterone receptors, we noticed that putative Hsc73 binding sites are conserved across species with similar sites existing in the androgen and glucocorticoid receptors. Together these findings suggest a possible mechanism through which E could influence the activities of progesterone, androgen, and glucocorticoid receptors, by enhancing the expression of Hsc73 in cells where these proteins colocalize.







Erich David Jarvis

Adjunct Professor in the Deptartment of Neurobiology

Dr. Jarvis' laboratory studies the neurobiology of vocal communication. Emphasis is placed on the molecular pathways involved in the perception and production of learned vocalizations. They use an integrative approach that combines behavioral, anatomical, electrophysiological and molecular biological techniques. The main animal model used is songbirds, one of the few vertebrate groups that evolved the ability to learn vocalizations. The generality of the discoveries is tested in other vocal learning orders, such as parrots and hummingbirds, as well as non-vocal learners, such as pigeons and non-human primates. Some of the questions require performing behavior/molecular biology experiments in freely ranging animals, such as hummingbirds in tropical forest of Brazil. Recent results show that in songbirds, parrots and hummingbirds, perception and production of song are accompanied by anatomically distinct patterns of gene expression. All three groups were found to exhibit vocally-activated gene expression in exactly 7 forebrain nuclei that are very similar to each other. These structures for vocal learning and production are thought to have evolved independently within the past 70 million years, since they are absent from interrelated non-vocal learning orders. One structure, Area X of the basal ganglia's striatum in songbirds, shows large differential gene activation depending on the social context in which the bird sings. These differences may reflect a semantic content of song, perhaps similar to human language.

The overall goal of the research is to advance knowledge of the neural mechanisms for vocal learning and basic mechanisms of brain function. These goals are further achieved by combined collaborative efforts with the laboratories of Drs. Mooney and Nowicki at Duke University, who study respectively behavior and electrophysiological aspects of songbird vocal communication.

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.