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Study of the expression profile of the androgen receptor in the pheromone-responsive sensory organ (vomeronasal organ)

Grant number: 11/20491-3
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): December 01, 2011
Effective date (End): November 30, 2012
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Biochemistry - Molecular Biology
Principal researcher:Fabio Papes
Grantee:Mateus Augusto de Andrade Souza
Home Institution: Instituto de Biologia (IB). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:09/00473-0 - Molecular biology of the olfactory system in mammals: study on the detection of odors and their neural representation in the brain, AP.JP

Abstract

The mammalian olfactory sensory system is composed of many subsystems in the nasal cavity. The main olfactory system detects general odors and the accessory or vomeronasal system detects pheromones that lead to instinctive behavioral responses, like reproductive, aggressive, fear and suckling behaviors. Through these olfactory subsystems, mammals are able to identify the presence and quality of food, presence of predators and conspecifics, and even reproductive characteristics, like availability for mating. The detection of such sensory stimuli differs among the sexes, and one of the factors leading to this phenomenon may be the action of sex hormones in the olfactory systems, directly or indirectly. In males, the testes secrete a number of masculine sex hormones, collectively called androgens, testosterone being the most abundant and potent of them. Such hormones mediate various biological processes in target cells through the androgen receptor (AR). Though enough knowledge on this receptor has been accrued over the last years, it is not known whether the expression of olfactory receptors relates to the expression of AR in the sensory organ that detects pheromones, the vomeronasal organ (VNO). In this project, we intend to confirm the androgen receptor's expression in the VNO and to identify whether there is a subgroup of vomeronasal receptors that non-randomly co-expresses with the AR receptor. We will perform experiments in animals under different hormonal conditions, seeking to determine whether masculine sex hormones influence the expression of vomeronasal receptors and the VNO's sensory capacity. This study may help comprehend the basis of chemosensory differences between the sexes, eventually providing a better understanding about differences in sensitivity of men and women. (AU)

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