Brain Pathways Mediating the Pro-Aggressive Effect of the Steroid Sulfatase (Sts) Gene


  • Mortaud Stéphane
  • Nicolas Laurent
  • Pinoteau Walter
  • Tordjman Sylvie
  • Carlier Michèle
  • Roubertoux Pierre L.

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STS is the single enzyme that converts all steroid sulfates into their free steroid forms. Initiation of attack behavior against conspecific male mice appeared to be linked to Sts. Here we have confirmed the role of Sts through an association study with attack behavior. Previous studies indicated a positive correlation between the initiation of attack behavior and liver STS concentration levels in male mice, but this finding was not compatible with established knowledge of STS mechanisms. High STS concentrations induce low concentrations of sulfated steroids. Sulfated and un-sulfated steroids are GABA(A) receptor agonists and NMDA receptor positive allosteric modulators. This synaptic pattern of functioning can generate attack behavior and we have confirmed here that an injection of the sulfated steroid dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) increases attack behavior. To solve the paradox, we measured the transcription activity of the genes underlying the pathways involved in the hydrolysis of sulfated steroids and leading to the formation of un-conjugated steroids in the mouse brain. We observed that the genes monitoring the steroid biosynthesis pathways exhibited a transcription pattern resulting in an increased sulfotransferase activity in the attacking males that could counterbalance the de-sulfating activity of Sts in the attacking mice.

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