Ovarian steroid hormones, estradiol and progesterone, regulate cellular functions in the central nervous system, resulting in the alterations in physiology and reproductive behavior. One means by which steroid hormones exert their neural effects on reproductive behavior is via their intracellular receptors functioning as ligand-dependent transcription factors. Studies from our laboratory in the past few years have shown that in addition to their cognate ligands, neurotransmitters like dopamine can activate intracellular steroid receptors in a ligand-independent manner. Using biochemical and molecular approaches we have demonstrated that the effects of neurotransmitter dopamine, on reproductive behavior in female rats and mice, occur by means of cross talk between membrane receptors for dopamine and intracellular progestin receptors (PRs). In this article, our studies on the integration of intracellular signaling pathways leading to the activation of PRs and its impact on modulation of reproductive behavior are summarized.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.