1932

Abstract

Mammalian pheromones control a myriad of innate social behaviors and acutely regulate hormone levels. Responses to pheromones are highly robust, reproducible, and stereotyped and likely involve developmentally predetermined neural circuits. Here, I review several facets of pheromone transduction in mammals, including () chemosensory receptors and signaling components of the main olfactory epithelium and vomeronasal organ involved in pheromone detection; () pheromone-activated neural circuits subject to sex-specific and state-dependent modulation; and () the striking chemical diversity of mammalian pheromones, which range from small, volatile molecules and sulfated steroids to large families of proteins. Finally, I review () molecular mechanisms underlying various behavioral and endocrine responses, including modulation of puberty and estrous; control of reproduction, aggression, suckling, and parental behaviors; individual recognition; and distinguishing of own species from predators, competitors, and prey. Deconstruction of pheromone transduction mechanisms provides a critical foundation for understanding how odor response pathways generate instinctive behaviors.

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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev-physiol-021113-170334
2014-02-10
2024-06-22
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  • Article Type: Review Article
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