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Women suffer from depression at twice the rate of men, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are poorly understood. Here, we identify dramatic baseline sex differences in expression of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) in human postmortem brain tissue that are profoundly lost in depression. One such lncRNA, RP11-298D21.1 (which we termed FEDORA), is enriched in oligodendrocytes and neurons and upregulated in several cortical regions of depressed females but not males. We found that virally-expressing FEDORA selectively either in neurons or in oligodendrocytes of prefrontal cortex promoted depression-like behavioral abnormalities in female mice only, changes associated with cell-type-specific regulation of synaptic properties, myelin thickness, and gene expression. We also found that blood FEDORA levels have diagnostic significance for depressed women. These findings demonstrate the important role played by lncRNAs, and FEDORA in particular, in shaping the sex-specific landscape of the brain and contributing to sex differences in depression.

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