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Published May 19, 2005 | Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Lhx6 Delineates a Pathway Mediating Innate Reproductive Behaviors from the Amygdala to the Hypothalamus


In mammals, innate reproductive and defensive behaviors are mediated by anatomically segregated connections between the amygdala and hypothalamus. This anatomic segregation poses the problem of how the brain integrates activity in these circuits when faced with conflicting stimuli eliciting such mutually exclusive behaviors. Using genetically encoded and conventional axonal tracers, we have found that the transcription factor Lhx6 delineates the reproductive branch of this pathway. Other Lhx proteins mark neurons in amygdalar nuclei implicated in defense. We have traced parallel projections from the posterior medial amygdala, activated by reproductive or defensive olfactory stimuli, respectively, to a point of convergence in the ventromedial hypothalamus. The opposite neurotransmitter phenotypes of these convergent projections suggest a "gate control" mechanism for the inhibition of reproductive behaviors by threatening stimuli. Our data therefore identify a potential neural substrate for integrating the influences of conflicting behavioral cues and a transcription factor family that may contribute to the development of this substrate.

Additional Information

© 2005 Elsevier B.V. Under an Elsevier user license. Received 9 February 2005, Revised 22 March 2005, Accepted 14 April 2005, Available online 7 June 2005; Published: May 18, 2005. We thank Nat Heintz and the GENSAT project, for providing Lhx6-GFP BAC transgenic mice; Gregor Eichele, for performing high-throughput in situ hybridization; T.M. Jessell, for calling our attention to gate control theory and for Lhx5 and Lhx2/9 antibodies; V. Pachnis, for Lhx6 antibody; Nirao Shah, Catherine Dulac, and Richard Axel, for comments on the manuscript; members of the Anderson laboratory, for helpful discussions; B. Kennedy and S. Pease for mouse facility management; Gaby Mosconi, for laboratory management; and Mooki and Munchkin for conditioning cat collars. This work was supported in part by NIH grant R21MH62825. D.J.A. is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

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August 19, 2023
October 20, 2023