Oxytocin signaling in the medial amygdala is required for sex discrimination of social cues
The neural control of social behaviors in rodents requires the encoding of pheromonal cues by the vomeronasal system. Here we show that the typical preference of male mice for females is eliminated in mutants lacking oxytocin, a neuropeptide modulating social behaviors in many species. Ablation of the oxytocin receptor in aromatase-expressing neurons of the medial amygdala (MeA) fully recapitulates the elimination of female preference in males. Further, single-unit recording in the MeA uncovered significant changes in the sensory representation of conspecific cues in the absence of oxytocin signaling. Finally, acute manipulation of oxytocin signaling in adults is sufficient to alter social interaction preferences in males as well as responses of MeA neurons to chemosensory cues. These results uncover the critical role of oxytocin signaling in a molecularly defined neuronal population in order to modulate the behavioral and physiological responses of male mice to females on a moment-to-moment basis.
Article and author information
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
- Catherine Dulac
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (5R01DC013087-04)
- Catherine Dulac
Simmons Family Foundation
- Catherine Dulac
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: Animal care and experiments were carried out in accordance with the NIH guidelines andapproved by the Harvard University Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (protocol numbers: 23-12, 25-13, 97-03)
- Richard D Palmiter, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Washington, United States
- Received: August 21, 2017
- Accepted: December 11, 2017
- Accepted Manuscript published: December 12, 2017 (version 1)
- Version of Record published: January 15, 2018 (version 2)
© 2017, Yao et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
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