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Lack of Gene Abolishes Sexual Behavior in Female Mice

Behavioral change occurs after knockout of estrogen receptor in specific brain area

FRIDAY, June 30 (HealthDay News) -- Knocking out the estrogen receptor in a specific brain area of female mice abolishes their sexual behavior and leads to aggressive rejection of male advances, according to a report published online June 27 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sonoko Ogawa, Ph.D., of the University of Tsukuba in Japan, and colleagues used a technique called RNA interference to specifically knock down the expression of estrogen receptor-α in the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus in ovariectomized female mice.

The researchers found that the expression of the estrogen receptor and the estrogen-inducible progesterone receptor was greatly reduced specifically in the targeted brain area. The mice displayed no sexual receptivity towards males and showed vigorous rejection, fighting approaching males and attempted mounts. Knocking out the estrogen receptor in other brain areas did not have these effects, according to the study.

"In this study, we demonstrate that site-specifically silencing estrogen receptor-α expression in a single nucleus (ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus) of normally developed adult mice blocked estrogen-induced sexual behavior," Ogawa and colleagues conclude.

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