Genetic Isolation of Hypothalamic Neurons that Regulate Context-Specific Male Social Behavior

Cell Rep. 2016 Jul 12;16(2):304-313. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.05.067. Epub 2016 Jun 23.


Nearly all animals engage in a complex assortment of social behaviors that are essential for the survival of the species. In mammals, these behaviors are regulated by sub-nuclei within the hypothalamus, but the specific cell types within these nuclei responsible for coordinating behavior in distinct contexts are only beginning to be resolved. Here, we identify a population of neurons in the ventral premammillary nucleus of the hypothalamus (PMV) that are strongly activated in male intruder mice in response to a larger resident male but that are not responsive to females. Using a combination of molecular and genetic approaches, we demonstrate that these PMV neurons regulate intruder-specific male social behavior and social novelty recognition in a manner dependent on synaptic release of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. These data provide direct evidence for a unique population of neurons that regulate social behaviors in specific contexts.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Competitive Behavior*
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Female
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism
  • Hypothalamus, Posterior / cytology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neurons / physiology*


  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Dopamine