Most of the neurons in the VNO, a sensory organ long assumed to be primarily devoted to pheromone detection, are dedicated to the detection of animals from other species.
An ambitious new analysis in mice demonstrates that for more than 1,300 genes active in the brain, there is a significant bias as to which copy is active—the one inherited from the mother or the one that came from the father.
In mammals, cells carry out their work driven by two copies of nearly every gene, one inherited from each parent. If something happens to one gene, the other is usually there to compensate. But for a small number of genes, the two copies rule does not apply. For those genes, only one parent’s copy is turned on,and the other is shut off. This regulatory process leaves little room for error because there is no gene to act as a backup if problems arise.
By short-circuiting the sensory organ that detects the chemical cues mice use to attract mates, researchers have prompted female mice to behave like male mice in the throes of courtship.
HHMI researchers have discovered that pheromones essential for mating behavior in mice are recognized by the nose and not by the vomeronasal system, as researchers had long suspected.
HHMI researchers discover that members of the MHC family of proteins usher pheromone receptors to the surface of sensory neurons.
HHMI researchers make first-ever recordings of pheromone activity in the brains of live animals.
HHMI researchers identify a key component of a neural pathway that etches fear-related experiences in memory.
Gene knockout studies show that pheromones are important in mating and aggression.