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Female sexual behavior in mice is controlled by kisspeptin neurons

Publication year 2018
Published in Nature Communications
Authors J. Bakker, Vincent Hellier, Olivier Brock, Michael Candlish, Elodie Desroziers, Mari Aoki, Christian Mayer, Richard Piet, Allan Herbison, William Henry Colledge, Vincent Prevot, Ulrich Boehm,

Sexual behavior is essential for the survival of many species. In female rodents, mate preference and copulatory behavior depend on pheromones and are synchronized with ovulation to ensure reproductive success. The neural circuits driving this orchestration in the brain have, however, remained elusive. Here, we demonstrate that neurons controlling ovulation in the mammalian brain are at the core of a branching neural circuit governing both mate preference and copulatory behavior. We show that male odors detected in the vomeronasal organ activate kisspeptin neurons in female mice. Classical kisspeptin/Kiss1R signaling subsequently triggers olfactory-driven mate preference. In contrast, copulatory behavior is elicited by kisspeptin neurons in a parallel circuit independent of Kiss1R involving nitric oxide signaling. Consistent with this, we find that kisspeptin neurons impinge onto nitric oxide-synthesizing neurons in the ventromedial hypothalamus. Our data establish kisspeptin neurons as a central regulatory hub orchestrating sexual behavior in the female mouse brain.

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