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PLoS One. 2011;6(7):e22093. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0022093. Epub 2011 Jul 27.

A role for strain differences in waveforms of ultrasonic vocalizations during male-female interaction.

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Mouse Genomics Resource Laboratory, National Institute of Genetics, Mishima, Shizuoka-ken, Japan.


Male mice emit ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) towards females during male-female interaction. It has been reported that USVs of adult male mice have the capability of attracting females. Although the waveform pattern of USVs is affected by genetic background, differences among strains with respect to USV and the effects of these differences on courtship behavior have not been analyzed fully. We analyzed USV patterns, as well as actual social behavior during USV recording, in 13 inbred mouse strains, which included laboratory and wild-derived strains. Significant effects of strain were observed for the frequency of USV emission, duration, and frequency of the waveform category. Principal component (PC) analysis showed that PC1 was related to frequency and duration, and PC2-4 were related to each waveform. In the comparison of USV patterns and behaviors among strains, wild-derived KJR mice displayed the highest scores for PC2-4, and female mice paired with KJR males did not emit rejection-related click sounds. It is assumed that the waveforms emitted by KJR males have a positive effect in male-female interaction. Therefore, we extracted waveforms in PC2-4 from the USV recordings of KJR mice to produce a sound file, "HIGH2-4". As a negative control, another sound file ("LOW2-4") was created by extracting waveforms in PC2-4 from strains with low scores for these components. In the playback experiments using these sound files, female mice were attracted to the speaker that played HIGH2-4 but not the speaker that played LOW2-4. These results highlight the role of strain differences in the waveforms of male USVs during male-female interaction. The results indicated that female mice use male USVs as information when selecting a suitable mate.

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