Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Male-specific Neurons Directly Linked To Gender-specific Behaviors

Date:
September 12, 2008
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
New research identifies a few critical neurons that initiate sex-specific behaviors in fruit flies and, when masculinized, can elicit male-typical courtship behaviors from females. The study demonstrates a direct link between sexual dimorphism in the brain and gender differences in behavior.

New research identifies a few critical neurons that initiate sex-specific behaviors in fruit flies and, when masculinized, can elicit male-typical courtship behaviors from females. The study, published by Cell Press in the September 11th issue of the journal Neuron, demonstrates a direct link between sexual dimorphism in the brain and gender differences in behavior.

In the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, males display a series of complex and stereotypic behaviors when they are courting a female. Males chase the female while vibrating their wings, producing a love song that has an aphrodisiac influence on the female, who would otherwise take action to escape the male's advances. Later steps in the male courtship behavior involve the initiation and completion of copulation.

"Although previous studies have identified a few key brain areas, such as the dorsal posterior brain, that appear to play a pivotal role in initiating male sexual behavior, nothing is known about the identity of neurons and their circuits in the brain sites which are central to the generation of male courtship behavior," says lead study author Professor Ken-ichi Kimura of the Hokkaido University of Education in Japan.

Professor Kimura and colleagues made use of a sophisticated technique that allowed them to identify, manipulate, and study small groups of cells in the fruit fly brain. The researchers focused on neurons that expressed a gene called fruitless (fru), a known sex-determination gene. The male-specific Fru protein is expressed in the brains of male flies, but not females. Studies have indicated that fru functions in parallel with another sex-determination gene called doublesex (dsx) and that fru may function as a kind of master control gene to direct organization of brain centers for sexual behavior.

A fru/dsx-expressing cell cluster, known as P1, was identified as an important site for initiating male courtship behavior. P1 cells are fated to die in females through the action of a feminizing protein called DsxF. Interestingly, genetic manipulation of females so that they possessed male P1 neurons effectively provoked male-typical courtship behavior in the females, even when other parts of the brain were not masculinized.

"P1 is located in the dorsal posterior brain and is composed of 20 neurons that have projections which communicate with the bilateral protocerebrum," explains Professor Kimura. "We found that the masculinizing protein Fru is required in the male brain for correct positioning of the projections from the P1 neurons."

Taken together, these findings demonstrate that the coordinated action of sex-determination genes dsx and fru confer the unique ability to initiate male-typical sexual behavior on P1 neurons. This research represents one of only a few examples presenting direct evidence for sexually dimorphic mechanisms that underlie gender-specific behavior and is the first to identify a specific cluster of cells that initiate courtship.

The researchers include Ken-ichi Kimura, Iwamizawa Campus, Hokkaido University of Education, Iwamizawa, Japan; Tomoaki Hachiya, Iwamizawa Campus, Hokkaido University of Education, Iwamizawa, Japan; Masayuki Koganezawa, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan; Tatsunori Tazawa, Iwamizawa Campus, Hokkaido University of Education, Iwamizawa, Japan; and Daisuke Yamamoto, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Male-specific Neurons Directly Linked To Gender-specific Behaviors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 September 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080910133655.htm>.
Cell Press. (2008, September 12). Male-specific Neurons Directly Linked To Gender-specific Behaviors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080910133655.htm
Cell Press. "Male-specific Neurons Directly Linked To Gender-specific Behaviors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080910133655.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A study suggests that parents become desensitized to violent movies as well as children, which leads them to allow their kids to view violent films. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins