Of Fighting Flies, Mice, and Men: Are Some of the Molecular and Neuronal Mechanisms of Aggression Universal in the Animal Kingdom?

PLoS Genet. 2015 Aug 27;11(8):e1005416. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005416. eCollection 2015 Aug.


Aggressive behavior is widespread in the animal kingdom, but the degree of molecular conservation between distantly related species is still unclear. Recent reports suggest that at least some of the molecular mechanisms underlying this complex behavior in flies show remarkable similarities with such mechanisms in mice and even humans. Surprisingly, some aspects of neuronal control of aggression also show remarkable similarity between these distantly related species. We will review these recent findings, address the evolutionary implications, and discuss the potential impact for our understanding of human diseases characterized by excessive aggression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Biological Evolution
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / genetics
  • Transcription, Genetic / genetics


  • Neuropeptides
  • Nr2e1 protein, mouse
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear