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Deconstructing male, female behavior in the lab

 

Narrator:        This is Science Today. Hormones like testosterone and estrogen play a key role in shaping our bodies. They also shape many of our behaviors, especially those that are distinct between men and women. But little has been known about the mechanism behind this. Now a team of researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, has uncovered a number of sex hormone-regulated genes that control certain types of male and female behaviors in mice.

Shah:              We can break down what it means to be a male or female behaviorally in a mouse into specific components that are genetically controlled.

Narrator:        Lead researcher Nirao Shah explained that when they selectively turned off these genes one by one, they could manipulate behaviors such as sex drive in females. But beyond illuminating the roles of genes in male and female behavior, Shah says the study results could have much broader implications as well.          

Shah:              Maybe all complex social behaviors are controlled similarly by gene networks, in the sense that it could take a complex social behavior and then break it down genetically. That's perhaps the largest implication.

Narrator:        For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.