The androgen receptor (AR) is known for masculinization of behavior and brain. To better understand the role that AR plays, mice bearing humanized Ar genes with varying lengths of a polymorphic N-terminal glutamine (Q) tract were created (Albertelli et al 2006). The length of the Q tract is inversely proporitional to AR activity. Biological studies of the Q tract length may also provide a window into potential AR contributions to sex-biases in disease risk. Here we take a multi-pronged approach to characterizing AR signaling effects on brain and behavior in mice using the humanized Ar Q tract model. We first map effects of Q tract length on regional brain anatomy, and consider if these are modified by gonadal sex. We then test the notion that spatial patterns of anatomical variation related to Q tract length could be organized by intrinsic spatiotemporal patterning of AR gene expression in the mouse brain. Finally, we test influences of Q tract length on four behavioral tests. Altering Q tract length led to neuroanatomical differences in a non-linear dosage-dependent fashion. Gene expression analyses indicated that adult neu- roanatomical changes due to Q tract length are only associated with neurode- velopment (as opposed to adulthood). No significant effect of Q tract length was found on the behavior of the three mouse models. These results indicate that AR activity differentially mediates neuroanatomy and behavior, that AR activity alone does not mediate sex differences, and that neurodevelopmen- tal processes are associated with spatial patterns of volume changes due to Q tract length in adulthood. They also indicate that androgen sensitivity in adulthood is not likely to lead to autism-related behaviors or neuroanatomy, although neurodevelopmental processes may play a role earlier. Further study into sex differences, development, other behaviors, and other sex-specific mech- anisms are needed to better understand AR sensitivity, neurodevelopmental disorders, and the sex difference in their prevalence.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Inc.

References

PubMed