BAX-dependent and BAX-independent regulation of Kiss1 neuron development in mice

Endocrinology. 2010 Dec;151(12):5807-17. doi: 10.1210/en.2010-0783. Epub 2010 Oct 6.


The Kiss1 gene and its product kisspeptin are important regulators of reproduction. In rodents, Kiss1 is expressed in the hypothalamic arcuate (ARC) and anteroventral periventricular (AVPV)/rostral periventricular (PeN) nuclei. In the AVPV/PeN, females have more Kiss1 and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) neurons than males. We explored the ontogeny of the Kiss1 sex difference, and the role of cell death in establishing Kiss1 and TH cell number. We also determined whether Kiss1 cells in AVPV/PeN coexpress TH. AVPV/PeN Kiss1 neurons were first detected in both sexes on postnatal d 10, but the Kiss1 sex difference did not emerge until postnatal d 12. The role of BAX-mediated apoptosis in generating this sex difference was tested in adult Bax knockout (KO) and wild-type mice. Deletion of Bax did not diminish the sex difference in Kiss1 expression in the AVPV/PeN. TH expression was sexually dimorphic in the AVPV of both wild-type and Bax KO mice but, unlike Kiss1, was not sexually dimorphic in the PeN of either genotype. Double-label analysis determined that most Kiss1 neurons coexpress TH mRNA, but many TH neurons do not coexpress Kiss1, especially in the PeN. These findings suggest that several subpopulations of TH cells reside within the AVPV/PeN, only one of which coexpresses Kiss1. In the ARC, Kiss1 cell number was markedly increased in Bax KO mice of both sexes, indicating that although BAX-dependent apoptosis does not generate the sex difference in either Kiss1 or TH expression in AVPV/PeN, BAX does importantly regulate Kiss1 cell number in the ARC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology*
  • Kisspeptins
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Sexual Maturation
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / genetics
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / metabolism
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein / genetics
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein / metabolism*


  • Bax protein, mouse
  • Kiss1 protein, mouse
  • Kisspeptins
  • Proteins
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase