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Cell Rep. 2015 Feb 3;10(4):453-62. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.12.040. Epub 2015 Jan 22.

Medial amygdalar aromatase neurons regulate aggression in both sexes.

Author information

1
Program in Biomedical Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94158, USA.
2
Program in Neuroscience, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94158, USA.
3
Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94158, USA.
4
Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA.
5
Department of Anatomy, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94158, USA. Electronic address: nms@ucsf.edu.

Abstract

Aromatase-expressing neuroendocrine neurons in the vertebrate male brain synthesize estradiol from circulating testosterone. This locally produced estradiol controls neural circuits underlying courtship vocalization, mating, aggression, and territory marking in male mice. How aromatase-expressing neuronal populations control these diverse estrogen-dependent male behaviors is poorly understood, and the function, if any, of aromatase-expressing neurons in females is unclear. Using targeted genetic approaches, we show that aromatase-expressing neurons within the male posterodorsal medial amygdala (MeApd) regulate components of aggression, but not other estrogen-dependent male-typical behaviors. Remarkably, aromatase-expressing MeApd neurons in females are specifically required for components of maternal aggression, which we show is distinct from intermale aggression in pattern and execution. Thus, aromatase-expressing MeApd neurons control distinct forms of aggression in the two sexes. Moreover, our findings indicate that complex social behaviors are separable in a modular manner at the level of genetically identified neuronal populations.

PMID:
25620703
PMCID:
PMC4349580
DOI:
10.1016/j.celrep.2014.12.040
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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