Pheromonal communication in vertebrates.

Department of Physiology, University of Bristol, Medical School Building, University Walk, Bristol BS8 1TD, UK.
Nature (Impact Factor: 42.35). 12/2006; 444(7117):308-15. DOI: 10.1038/nature05404
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Recent insights have revolutionized our understanding of the importance of chemical signals in influencing vertebrate behaviour. Previously unknown families of pheromonal signals have been identified that are expanding the traditional definition of a pheromone. Although previously regarded as functioning independently, the main olfactory and vomeronasal systems have been found to have considerable overlap in terms of the chemosignals they detect and the effects that they mediate. Studies using gene-targeted mice have revealed an unexpected diversity of chemosensory systems and their underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms. Future developments could show how the functions of the different chemosensory systems are integrated to regulate innate and learned behavioural and physiological responses to pheromones.


Available from: Peter Brennan, Jun 03, 2015
1 Follower
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: A large family of vomeronasal receptors recognize pheromone cues in many animals including most amphibia, reptiles, rhodents, and other mammals. Humans possess five vomeronasal-type 1 receptor genes (VN1R1-VN1R5), which code for proteins that are functional in recombinant expression systems. We used two different recombinant expression systems and identified Hedione as a ligand for the putative human pheromone receptor VN1R1 expressed in the human olfactory epithelium. Following the ligand identification, we employed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in healthy volunteers to characterize the in vivo action of the VN1R1 ligand Hedione. In comparison to a common floral odor (phenylethyl alcohol), Hedione exhibited significantly enhanced activation in limbic areas (amygdala, hippocampus) and elicited a sex-differentiated response in a hypothalamic region that is associated with hormonal release. Utilizing a novel combination of methods, our results indicate that the putative human pheromone receptor VN1R1 is involved in extra-olfactory neuronal activations induced by the odorous substance Hedione. The activation of VN1R1 might play a role in gender-specific modulation of hormonal secretion in humans. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    NeuroImage 03/2015; 113. DOI:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.03.029 · 6.13 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Introgression of genetically engineered modifications (GMs) into natural populations represents a new realm for mutation theory. GMs, like mutations, have direct and pleiotropic impacts that can disrupt evolved adaptive suites. If GM males are more competitive or attractive mates, the “Trojan Gene Hypothesis” predicts potentially drastic impacts. We examined sexual selection in transgenic growth hormone (Tg) mice that are strong Trojan candidates given their exceptional size and extensive pleiotropic deficits. We hypothesized that the sophisticated olfactory abilities of females would recognize dysregulation of Tg males (the Transparent Genome Hypothesis). Females expressed interest in Tg males and their volatile scent, but when allowed nasal contact with urine (critical to mate choice) they preferred normal males. Tg male urine had reduced major urinary proteins (important in social signaling) and contained albumin and transferrin indicative of pathology. Novel Tg males failed to elicit pregnancy block in recently inseminated females (the “Bruce Effect”) whereas normal males were highly effective. Normal males expressed high aggression but Tg males were placid, non-aggressive and were largely ignored by normal males. Female mice also strongly preferred normal males over p53± knockout males in response to volatiles, contact with urine and male presence. This study suggests that conspecific discrimination of fitness may be more powerful than generally appreciated. This has great implications for introductions of GM animals and sexual selection generally.
    Evolutionary Biology 06/2013; 41(2):276-298. DOI:10.1007/s11692-013-9268-x · 3.27 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: eLife digest Animals often sniff each other as a form of greeting to communicate with each other through chemical signals in their body odors. However, in humans this form of behavior is considered taboo, especially between strangers. Scientists argue that, in spite of our efforts to avoid being ‘smelly’, we may actually smell each other without being aware that we do so. Here, Frumin et al. first put on latex gloves and then shook hands with volunteers to collect samples of their odor. Chemical analysis of the gloves found that a handshake alone was sufficient to transfer the volunteers' odor. These odors were made of chemicals that are similar to ones that animals smell when sniffing each other. Therefore, when we shake hands with a stranger, it is possible that we may inadvertently smell the stranger's chemical signals. To address this possibility, Frumin et al. investigated how humans behave after shaking hands with a stranger. Volunteers were asked to wait in a room alone before they were greeted by one of the researchers. Some of these volunteers were greeted with a handshake and others were greeted without a handshake. Afterwards, all the volunteers spent some time in a room by themselves where their behavior was covertly monitored. Frumin et al. found that volunteers who shook hands were more likely to sniff their hand, for example, by touching their nose when they were in the room on their own, than those who did not shake hands. After the volunteers shook hands with someone of their own gender, they spent more time sniffing their right hand (the one they had used for the handshake). However, after the volunteers shook hands with someone of the opposite gender, they spent more time sniffing their left hand instead. Next, the body odor of some of the experimenters was tainted by perfumes or gender-specific odors. Volunteers who shook hands with these tainted individuals behaved differently; when the experimenter was tainted with perfume the volunteers spent more time sniffing their own hands, but when the experimenter was tainted with a gender-specific odor they spent less time sniffing of their own hands. This shows that different smells influenced the hand sniffing behavior of the volunteers. Frumin et al.'s findings suggest that a simple handshake may help us to detect chemical signals from other people. Depending on the person's gender, we may respond by sniffing our right hand to check out the person's odor, or our left hand to smell ourselves in comparison. Future studies will involve finding out how this sniffing behavior could work as an unconcious form of human communication. DOI:
    eLife Sciences 03/2015; 4. DOI:10.7554/eLife.05154.001 · 8.52 Impact Factor