W Ma

Indiana University Bloomington, Bloomington, Indiana, United States

Are you W Ma?

Claim your profile

Publications (8)109.34 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The prevailing view of the mammalian olfactory system is that odorants are detected only in the nasal olfactory epithelium, whereas pheromones are generally detected in the vomeronasal organ. Here we show that vomeronasal neurons can actually detect both odorants and pheromones. This suggests that in mammals, as in insects, odorous compounds released from plants or other animal species may act as 'semiochemicals' - signalling molecules that elicit stereotyped behaviours that are advantageous to the emitter or to the receiver.
    Nature 08/2001; 412(6843):142. · 42.35 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The vomeronasal organ (VNO) is a chemoreceptive organ that is thought to transduce pheromones into electrical responses that regulate sexual, hormonal and reproductive function in mammals. The characteristics of pheromone signal detection by vomeronasal neurons remain unclear. Here we use a mouse VNO slice preparation to show that six putative pheromones evoke excitatory responses in single vomeronasal neurons, leading to action potential generation and elevated calcium entry. The detection threshold for some of these chemicals is remarkably low, near 10(-11) M, placing these neurons among the most sensitive chemodetectors in mammals. Using confocal calcium imaging, we map the epithelial representation of the pheromones to show that each of the ligands activates a unique, nonoverlapping subset of vomeronasal neurons located in apical zones of the epithelium. These neurons show highly selective tuning properties and their tuning curves do not broaden with increasing concentrations of ligand, unlike those of receptor neurons in the main olfactory epithelium. These findings provide a basis for understanding chemical signals that regulate mammalian communication and sexual behaviour.
    Nature 07/2000; 405(6788):792-6. · 42.35 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: A minor component of the major urinary protein complex of the house mouse was chromatographically isolated and ascertained to be a previously suspected glycoprotein. Using highly sensitive mass-spectrometric techniques for sequencing and linkage analysis, the N-linked oligosaccharides of this glycoprotein were characterized. They were determined to be of the complex type with a wide heterogeneity. The heterogeneity was due to both the degree of sialylation and the presence of galactose residues in either beta(1-3) or beta(1-4) linkages. The biantennary structures were the most pronounced glycans, while tri- and tetraantennary entities were minor.
    Glycobiology 04/2000; 10(3):231-5. · 3.75 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Five structurally diverse small ligands, all binding to the major urinary protein (MUP) of the male house mouse, show individually puberty-accelerating pheromonal activity in the recipient females. A recombinant MUP (identical structurally to the natural protein) has shown no biological activity. While four of these ligands were previously implicated in oestrus synchronization (Whitten effect), the same chemosignals now appear responsible for both sexual maturation and cycling in adult females.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 11/1999; 266(1432):2017-22. · 5.29 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Olfactorily mediated puberty acceleration in female mice (measured by an increase in uterine weight) has been observed since the 1960s without the active chemosignal being structurally identified. There are many controversies in the literature as to whether this male-originated pheromone is a volatile substance. We investigated the chemical nature of the urinary fractions that are responsible for the characteristic uterine weight increases. The active pheromone was identified as 5,5-dimethyl-2-ethyltetrahydrofuran-2-ol and/or its open-chain tautomer (6-hydroxy-6-methyl-3-heptanone). A series of cyclic vinyl ethers were isolated from chromatographically active fractions of the urine. Because these compounds did not accelerate puberty, we postulated that these ethers were degradation products of a lactol (5,5-dimethyl-2-ethyltetrahydrofuran-2-ol). The lactol was then detected directly in the mouse urine extract using a silylation agent. Synthetic 6-hydroxy-6-methyl-3-heptanone had strong biological activity, whereas its close structural analogs did not. The male house mouse excretes into its urine a large quantity of a volatile substance that has a unique lactol/hydroxyketone structure. This substance is capable of binding to the less volatile urinary constituents, such as proteins or peptides, and is active in puberty-acceleration bioassays. The controversies regarding the volatility of the puberty-accelerating pheromones can now be explained by considering a complex of volatile lactol/hydroxyketone and urinary proteins.
    Chemistry & Biology 07/1999; 6(6):377-83. · 6.59 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Two major volatile constituents of the male mouse preputial gland, E,E-alpha-farnesene and E-beta-farnesene, were examined for their role in inducing estrous cycles in grouped female mice. The results indicated that the mixture of the farnesenes was as effective as the homogenate of the intact preputial gland, while the extract of the castrate preputial tissue did not show a pronounced response.
    Chemical Senses 07/1999; 24(3):289-93. · 3.28 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Vomeromodulin, a putative pheromone transporter of the rat vomeronasal organ, was isolated by lectin chromatography, purified, and subjected to a mass spectrometric (MS) system of glycan structural determination. Through a combination of exoglycosidase treatments and measurements by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization MS, the N-glycans of vomeromodulin were identified as mainly sialylated and fucosylated biantennary structures. The microheterogeneity of N-glycan structures was also due to the presence of galactose residues with different types of linkages.
    Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 03/1999; 255(2):451-5. · 2.28 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Mature female mice, grouped in the absence of a male stimulus, exhibit a suppressed estrous cycle (the so-called Lee-Boot effect). We have designed a series of experiments to elucidate the involvement of the adrenal gland in this phenomenon. Our initial results indicate that adrenalectomized mice exhibit a regular estrous cycle in either isolated or grouped conditions. A single, intact mouse caged with five adrenalectomized females showed repeated normal cycles. When the urine samples from group-caged intact mice or group-caged adrenalectomized mice were applied to the external nares of singly caged females, estrous cycles were inhibited in the animals receiving urine from the intact mice but not from the adrenalectomized mice. In addition, corticosterone therapy restored the function of estrus suppression in grouped, adrenalectomized mice. We had previously shown that the urinary excretion of several volatile compounds (2-heptanone, trans-5-hepten-2-one, trans-4-hepten-2-one, pentyl acetate, cis-2-penten-1-yl acetate, and 2,5-dimethylpyrazine) was adrenal mediated (Science 1986; 231:722-725). A further testing of these compounds in relation to estrus suppression has now revealed that a mixture of these compounds is effective, but removing 2, 5-dimethylpyrazine from the mixture abolished the biological response. The overall results of this study show conclusively an important role of the adrenal gland and adrenal-mediated urinary metabolites in estrus suppression.
    Biology of Reproduction 01/1999; 59(6):1317-20. · 3.45 Impact Factor