KANSAS CITY, MOResearchers at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research have identified the functions of two classes of pheromone receptors, and found pheromones crucial to triggering the mating process in mice.
They found one class of receptors helps a male mouse detect pheromones that indicate when a female is present. The other class of receptors lets him know if the female mouse is ovulating and ready to mate. Both sets of pheromones are critical to trigger mating. Stowers' researchers believe mice developed this system through evolution to maximize the chance of their reproductive success.
"Interestingly, the pheromone that tells other mice that 'I am female,' or the one that tells others, 'I am ovulating,' do not do much on their own," says Stowers Investigator Ron Yu, Ph.D., who led the study. "But when the two are presented together, the male mice showed great interest in courting and mating with the female."
The findings, published in the July 29 issue of eLife, offer new insight into how the mammalian brain processes sensory information like pheromones to elicit courtship behaviors. Because the brain works similarly in mice and humans, the findings could also increase understanding of inborn behaviors in humansbehaviors like seeing, smelling and sexual arousal, that, "come naturally," and don't have to be learned.
Pheromones, chemical signals that stimulate social responses in others of the same species, trigger many of these inborn behaviors. These chemical signals can let an animal know when a suitable mate is near and activate the release of hormones that encourage the animal to mate. In mammals, the vomeronasal organ, located between the roof of the mouth and the nose, detects pheromones.
Humans no longer have a functional vomeronasal system, but the mechanisms that contr
|Contact: Kim Bland|
Stowers Institute for Medical Research