Many behavioral traits and most brain disorders are common to males and females but are more evident in one sex than the other. The control of these subtle sex-linked biases is largely unstudied and has been presumed to mirror that of the highly dimorphic reproductive nuclei. Sexual dimorphism in the reproductive tract is a product of Müllerian inhibiting substance (MIS), as well as the sex steroids. Males with a genetic deficiency in MIS signaling are sexually males, leading to the presumption that MIS is not a neural regulator. We challenge this presumption by reporting that most immature neurons in mice express the MIS-specific receptor (MISRII) and that male Mis−/− and Misrii−/− mice exhibit subtle feminization of their spinal motor neurons and of their exploratory behavior. Consequently, MIS may be a broad regulator of the subtle sex-linked biases in the nervous system.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol.106, No.17, pp.7203-7208 PMID: 19359476