Maternal behavior is impaired in female mice lacking type 3 adenylyl cyclase

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011 Mar;36(4):772-81. doi: 10.1038/npp.2010.211. Epub 2010 Dec 8.


Although chemosensory signals generated by mouse pups may trigger maternal behavior of females, the mechanism for detection of these signals has not been fully defined. As some odorant receptors are coupled to the type 3 adenylyl cyclase (AC3), we evaluated the role of AC3 for maternal behavior using AC3(-/-) female mice. Here, we report that maternal behavior is impaired in virgin and postpartum AC3(-/-) mice. Female AC3(-/-) mice failed the pup retrieval assay, did not construct well-defined nests, and did not exhibit maternal aggression. Furthermore, AC3(-/-) females could not detect odorants or pup urine in the odorant habituation test and were unable to detect pups by chemoreception. In contrast to wild-type mice, AC activity in main olfactory epithelium (MOE) preparations from AC3(-/-) female mice was not stimulated by odorants or pheromones. Moreover, odorants and pheromones did not evoke electro-olfactogram (EOG) responses in the MOE of AC3(-/-) female mice. We hypothesize that the detection of chemical signals that trigger maternal behavior in female mice depends upon AC3 in the MOE.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adenylyl Cyclases / deficiency*
  • Adenylyl Cyclases / genetics
  • Aggression / physiology
  • Aggression / psychology
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Female
  • Maternal Behavior / physiology*
  • Maternal Behavior / psychology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Smell / genetics


  • Adenylyl Cyclases
  • adenylate cyclase 3