38th CiNet Monthly Seminar: Kazushige Touhara “Molecular and neural basis for social behavior in mice and human”

CiNet Monthly Seminar

September 5, 2019
CiNet 1F Conference Room

Title: “Molecular and neural basis for social behavior in mice and human”

Kazushige Touhara
University of Tokyo

Host: Shinji Nishimoto (PI)

Chemosensory cues in the external environment such as odorant and pheromone affect behavior and emotion in animals via the olfactory system. In mice, a male specific lacrimal pheromone ESP1 activates a specific vomeronasal receptor and enhances sexual receptive behavior in females (Haga et al. Nature 2010) and aggression in males (Hattori et al. Current Biol. 2016) via sexual dimorphic neural pathways in the brain (Ishii et al. Neuron 2017). In contrast, a juvenile pheromone ESP22 not only suppresses sexual mounting behavior in adult males (Ferrero et al. Nature 2013) but also enhances sexual rejection in females (Osakada et al. Nature Communications 2018). ESP1 and ESP22 are recognized by closely related receptors (V2Rp5 and V2Rp4) but appear to couple with distinct limbic neural circuits, leading to opposing effects on females. In human, visual and auditory signals from infants have been shown to be potent facilitators of parenting. However, whether odors emitted by our young also influence human parenting remains unclear. A series of questionnaire surveys targeting parents with children under 6 years old suggests that infant odors play roles in human parenting (Okamoto et al. PLoS One 2016). I will present our preliminary data suggesting the existence of infant specific odorant molecules that may be utilized in social communication between infant and mother in the human society.