Sex-Specific Role for SLIT1 in Regulating Stress

Y.Y. van der Zee, C.K. Lardner, E.M. Parise, P. Mews, A. Ramakrishnan, V. Patel, C.D. Teague, M. Salery, D.M. Walker, C.J. Browne, B. Labonte, L.F. Parise, H. Kronman, C.J. Pena, A. Torres-Berrio, J.E. Duffy, L. de Nijs, L.M.T. Eijssen, L. Shen, B. RuttenO. Issler*, E.J. Nestler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Major depressive disorder is a pervasive and debilitating syndrome characterized by mood disturbances, anhedonia, and alterations in cognition. While the prevalence of major depressive disorder is twice as high for women as men, little is known about the molecular mechanisms that drive sex differences in depression susceptibility. METHODS: We discovered that SLIT1, a secreted protein essential for axonal navigation and molecular guidance during development, is downregulated in the adult ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) of women with depression compared with healthy control subjects, but not in men with depression. This sex-specific downregulation of Slit1 was also observed in the vmPFC of mice exposed to chronic variable stress. To identify a causal, sex-specific role for SLIT1 in depression-related behavioral abnormalities, we performed knockdown (KD) of Slit1 expression in the vmPFC of male and female mice. RESULTS: When combined with stress exposure, vmPFC Slit1 KD reflected the human condition by inducing a sex specific increase in anxiety-and depression-related behaviors. Furthermore, we found that vmPFC Slit1 KD decreased the dendritic arborization of vmPFC pyramidal neurons and decreased the excitability of the neurons in female mice, effects not observed in males. RNA sequencing analysis of the vmPFC after Slit1 KD in female mice revealed an augmented transcriptional stress signature. CONCLUSIONS: Together, our findings establish a crucial role for SLIT1 in regulating neurophysiological and transcriptional responses to stress within the female vmPFC and provide mechanistic insight into novel signaling pathways and molecular factors influencing sex differences in depression susceptibility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-91
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Volume91
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

Keywords

  • CYCLIN D1
  • DENDRITIC MORPHOLOGY
  • SYNAPTIC PLASTICITY
  • GENDER-DIFFERENCES
  • PYRAMIDAL NEURONS
  • AXON GUIDANCE
  • SLIT
  • DEPRESSION
  • CORTEX
  • EXPRESSION

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