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The meaning of Mups : understanding the basis of activation in the vomeronasal organ

  • Author(s): Lloyd, Kathleen Marie
  • et al.
Abstract

Animals use pheromones to communicate information such as social status and to elicit stereotypic behaviors such as intraspecies aggression, fear, reproduction, and suckling. The family of Major Urinary Proteins (Mups) in mice has been implicated as pheromones that promote individual recognition and male to male aggression. Mup variants 24 and 25 are sufficient to elicit stereotypic male to male aggression through activation of the vomeronasal organ, part of the accessory olfactory system. The neural mechanisms by which these pheromones elicit this behavior however are largely unknown. Through the engineering of point mutations and Mup chimeras we found that the amino terminus domain of these proteins is required for specific neuron activation in the vomeronasal organ. Furthermore, a chimeric Mup 25, which activates a subset of sensory neurons stimulated by native Mup 25, fails to initiate Mup 25-mediated aggression in behavioral assays. Overall, our results provide a possible mechanism for Mup-receptor interactions as well as insight into the mode of information coding in the vomeronasal organ

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