Genetic Isolation of Hypothalamic Neurons that Regulate Context-Specific Male Social Behavior.
Soden ME., Miller SM., Burgeno LM., Phillips PE., Hnasko TS., Zweifel LS.
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.