Species differences in central oxytocin receptor gene expression: comparative analysis of promoter sequences

J Neuroendocrinol. 1996 Oct;8(10):777-83. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2826.1996.05188.x.


The distribution of oxytocin binding sites in the brain is highly variable among mammals. Using two species of microtine rodents (voles) with strikingly different patterns of oxytocin binding sites in the brain, we demonstrate that these differences are due to differences in region specific gene expression and not post-translational processing. The distribution of oxytocin receptor mRNA closely resembles the distribution of oxytocin receptor binding sites in both species. Analysis of the 5' flanking region of the oxytocin receptor gene from both species reveals few differences in potential regulatory elements which could explain the differences in gene expression. These data suggest that species differences in oxytocin receptor binding are due to species differences in: i) distant DNA sequences further upstream or downstream which may influence expression; ii) the distribution of regulatory proteins such as transcription factors in the brain or iii) epigenetic factors, such as prenatal and perinatal environment which may affect gene expression in the adult.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Arvicolinae / metabolism*
  • Autoradiography
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA / genetics*
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oxytocin / analogs & derivatives
  • Oxytocin / metabolism
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • RNA Probes
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, Oxytocin / biosynthesis*
  • Receptors, Oxytocin / genetics*
  • Receptors, Oxytocin / metabolism
  • Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid*
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Species Specificity
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • KB 5-21
  • RNA Probes
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Oxytocin
  • Oxytocin
  • DNA