Altered Female Mice Fend off Male Advances

DAEJEON, South Korea, July 8 (UPI) — Female mice lacking a specific enzyme are put off by sexual advances of male mice and may try to copulate with other female mice, South Korean researchers said.

The researchers, writing in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Genetics Thursday, said they created the mice without the fucose mutarotase gene to investigate the role of this enzyme in vivo. The mammalian fucose mutarotase enzyme is involved in incorporating fucose into protein.

Chankyu Park, who worked with researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Daejeon, South Korea, said he gained insight into the neurological basis of sexual preference through his research.

“The FucM knockout mice (those without the fucose mutarotase gene) displayed drastically reduced sexual receptivity, although pregnancy after forced mating attempts by normal sexually experienced males showed that the animals were fertile,” he said.

The mice without the gene had lower levels of a protein thought to be involved in development of parts of the brain responsible for reproductive behavior, Park said.

The altered female mice were healthy and behaved normally, he said. However, when they were approached by male mice the female mice didn’t adopt the sexually receptive position and would attempt to mount other females, among other things, Park said.

“We speculate that these behavioral changes are likely to be related to a neuro-developmental change in pre-optic area of the female mutant brain, becoming similar to that of a normal male,” he said.

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