Maternally inherited peptides as strain-specific chemosignals.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Most mammals rely on chemosensory cues for individual recognition, which is essential to many aspects of social behavior, such as maternal bonding, mate recognition, and inbreeding avoidance. Both volatile molecules and nonvolatile peptides secreted by individual conspecifics are detected by olfactory sensory neurons in the olfactory epithelium and the vomeronasal organ. The pertinent cues used for individual recognition remain largely unidentified. Here we show that nonformylated, but not N-formylated, mitochondrially encoded peptides-that is, the nine N-terminal amino acids of NADH dehydrogenases 1 and 2-can be used to convey strain-specific information among individual mice. We demonstrate that these nonformylated peptides are sufficient to induce a strain-selective pregnancy block. We also observed that the pregnancy block by an unfamiliar peptide derived from a male of a different strain was prevented by a memory formed at the time of mating with that male. Our findings also demonstrate that pregnancy-blocking chemosignals in the urine are maternally inherited, as evidenced by the production of reciprocal sons from two inbred strains and our test of their urine's ability to block pregnancy. We propose that this link between polymorphic mitochondrial peptides and individual recognition provides the molecular means to communicate an individual's maternal lineage and strain.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Kaba, H; Fujita, H; Agatsuma, T; Matsunami, H

Published Date

  • December 1, 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 117 / 48

Start / End Page

  • 30738 - 30743

PubMed ID

  • 33199615

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC7720231

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1091-6490

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1073/pnas.2014712117


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States