Neurotransmitter Switching Regulated by miRNAs Controls Changes in Social Preference

Neuron. 2017 Sep 13;95(6):1319-1333.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.08.023. Epub 2017 Aug 31.


Changes in social preference of amphibian larvae result from sustained exposure to kinship odorants. To understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms of this neuroplasticity, we investigated the effects of olfactory system activation on neurotransmitter (NT) expression in accessory olfactory bulb (AOB) interneurons during development. We show that protracted exposure to kin or non-kin odorants changes the number of dopamine (DA)- or gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA)-expressing neurons, with corresponding changes in attraction/aversion behavior. Changing the relative number of dopaminergic and GABAergic AOB interneurons or locally introducing DA or GABA receptor antagonists alters kinship preference. We then isolate AOB microRNAs (miRs) differentially regulated across these conditions. Inhibition of miR-375 and miR-200b reveals that they target Pax6 and Bcl11b to regulate the dopaminergic and GABAergic phenotypes. The results illuminate the role of NT switching governing experience-dependent social preference. VIDEO ABSTRACT.

Keywords: GABA; Xenopus larvae; accessory olfactory bulb; dopamine; miR-200b; miR-375; microRNA; neurotransmitter switching; odorants; social preference.

Publication types

  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Choice Behavior / physiology*
  • Dopamine / biosynthesis*
  • Dopamine / physiology
  • Dopamine Antagonists / pharmacology
  • GABA Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Interneurons / physiology
  • MicroRNAs / antagonists & inhibitors
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • MicroRNAs / physiology*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / biosynthesis*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / physiology
  • Olfactory Bulb / metabolism*
  • PAX6 Transcription Factor / physiology
  • Pheromones / physiology
  • Siblings
  • Social Behavior*
  • Transcription Factors / physiology
  • Xenopus Proteins / physiology
  • Xenopus laevis
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / biosynthesis*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / physiology


  • Bcl11b protein, Xenopus
  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • GABA Antagonists
  • MicroRNAs
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • PAX6 Transcription Factor
  • Pax6 protein, Xenopus
  • Pheromones
  • Transcription Factors
  • Xenopus Proteins
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Dopamine