The motor systems that produce behavioral movements are among the primary targets for the action of steroid hormones, including androgens. Androgens such as testosterone bind to androgen receptors (AR) to induce physiological changes in the size, strength, and energetic capacity of skeletal muscles, which can directly influence the performance of behaviors in which those muscles are used. Because tissues differentially express AR, resulting in tissue-specific sensitivity to androgens, AR expression may be a major target of selection for the evolution of behavior. Anolis lizards (i.e., anoles) provide a robust system for the study of androgen-regulated traits, including the behavioral traits that facilitate social display and locomotion. In this study, we examined six anole species that demonstrate significant variation in the behavioral use of the forelimbs to measure the proportion of myonuclei in the bicep muscles that express AR. Using phylogenetic comparative analyses, we found that species with a greater proportion of nuclei positive for AR expression in the biceps exhibited greater frequencies of locomotor movements and pushup displays. These results suggest that AR expression in skeletal muscles may influence the evolution of androgen-regulated behaviors in this group.
Document Object Identifier (DOI)
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Johnson, M.A., Kircher, B.K., & Castro, D.J. (2018). The evolution of androgen receptor expression and behavior in Anolis lizard forelimb muscles. Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology, 204(1), 71-79. doi:10.1007/s00359-017-1228-y
Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology