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Neuroreport. 2018 Oct 17;29(15):1333-1339. doi: 10.1097/WNR.0000000000001122.

G protein γ subunit Gγ13 is essential for olfactory function and aggressive behavior in mice.

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College of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.
Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Kansas City, Missouri.
Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


Most olfactory receptors in vertebrates are G protein-coupled receptors, whose activation by odorants initiates intracellular signaling cascades through heterotrimeric G proteins consisting of α, β, and γ subunits. Abolishment of the α subunits such as Gαolf in the main olfactory epithelium and Gαi2 and Gαo in the vomeronasal organ resulted in anosmia and/or impaired behavioral responses. In this study, we report that a G protein γ subunit, Gγ13, is expressed in a spatiotemporal manner similar to those of Gαolf and Gαi2 in the olfactory system and vomeronasal organ, respectively. In addition, Gγ13 was found in the glomeruli of the main olfactory bulb but was largely absent in the glomeruli of the accessory olfactory bulb. Using the Cre-loxP system, the Gγ13's gene Gng13 was nullified in the mature olfactory sensory neurons and apical vomeronasal sensory neurons where the Cre recombinase was expressed under the promoter of the Omp gene for the olfactory marker protein. Immunohistochemistry indicated much reduced expression of Gγ13 in the apical vomeronasal epithelium of the mutant mice. Behavioral experiments showed that the frequency and duration of aggressive encounters in the male mutant mice were significantly lower than in WT male mice. Taken together, these data suggest that the Gγ13 subunit is a critical signaling component in both the main olfactory epithelium and apical vomeronasal epithelium, and it plays an essential role in odor-triggered social behaviors including male-male aggression.

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