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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2010 Dec;20(6):770-5. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2010.08.015. Epub 2010 Sep 15.

Sexual dimorphism in olfactory signaling.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, ICND222, 10550 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA. stowers@scripps.edu

Abstract

What makes males and females behave differently? Although genetic master-regulators commonly underlie physical differences, sexually dimorphic behavior is additionally influenced by sensory input such as olfactory cues. Olfaction requires both ligands for signaling and sensory neural circuits for detection. Specialized subsets of each interact to generate gender-dimorphic behavior. It has long been accepted that males and females emit sex-specific odor compounds that function as pheromones to promote stereotypic behavior. Significant advances have now been made in purifying and isolating several of these sex-specific olfactory ligands. In contrast, the neural mechanisms that enable a gender-dimorphic response to these odors remain largely unknown. However, first progress has been made in identifying components of sexually dimorphic olfactory circuits in both Drosophila and the mouse.

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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